Cannavaro targets World Cup after ankle setback

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The Independent Football

Fabio Cannavaro will be out for a "few months" after tearing ankle ligaments in Italy's first training session in Austria before Euro 2008 begins. The defender, who would have captained the world champions, will be staying with the squad to offer support. He is expected to have an operation today following the injury sustained on Monday when he was tackled by Giorgio Chiellini.

"This was my last European Championship," Cannavaro, 34, said. "We are footballers and these things happen." The Real Madrid central defender said he expected to be out of action for a few months but was determined to play at the 2010 World Cup.

"I will take it as a challenge to return to the same important level. Giorgio is an exceptional lad, these things happen. It is not his mistake," Cannavaro added.

Cannavaro hinted he may have considered retiring after Euro 2008 if the injury had not happened but was now trying to stay cheerful. "Definitely, after the injury I have the will to return," he said.

The Italy coach, Roberto Donadoni, said no decision had been made on the captaincy ahead of their opening game against the Netherlands on Monday. The goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon looks the most likely candidate while Cannavaro's place in the squad has been filled by Alessandro Gamberini.

Donadoni would not be drawn on who would take Cannavaro's spot in the starting line-up with Marco Materazzi, Andrea Barzagli, Chiellini and Christian Panucci also vying for a starting place.

"To lose a player of Cannavaro's quality is tough but I'm confident the person who takes his place will perform very well," Donadoni told a news conference. "It is very important to have Cannavaro here. It is important for the group and for continuity."