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Lippi will not pressure pair to return

Marcello Lippi insists he will not pressure Francesco Totti or Alessandro Nesta to return to the Italian national team.

Marcello Lippi, who led Italy to glory at the World Cup in 2006, has returned to his former post.
Marcello Lippi, who led Italy to glory at the World Cup in 2006, has returned to his former post.

ROME // Returning Italy coach Marcello Lippi insists he will not pressure Francesco Totti or Alessandro Nesta to reverse their decisions to retire from the international team. Lippi, who led the Azzurri to World Cup glory in Germany in 2006 before stepping down, returned to the role last week after Roberto Donadoni lost his job following Italy's poor showing at Euro 2008.

The Roma captain Totti and AC Milan defender Nesta quit international football last year and many believe Italy would be better equipped if the pair returned for the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign. "I am totally convinced that you must respect peoples' decisions, in this case two great champions who have given everything for the national side," Lippi said in first press conference since his reappointment.

"It is not right (to pressure them), they've made a decision we must respect." However, Lippi did the leave the door open for the pair if they changed their minds independently. Totti was injured and in any case would have missed Italy's lacklustre run to last month's Euro 2008 quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to eventual winners Spain. But Nesta would almost certainly have been in the team after captain Fabio Cannavaro was ruled out of the tournament with injury just before it started.

Lippi refused to answer questions about the Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero, who is evaluating his international future after being a bit part player at the European Championships in Austria and Switzerland. The Defender Christian Panucci, 35, fell out with Lippi and did not play in their victorious World Cup campaign in 2006. He was an ever-present under Donadoni at Euro 2008 and Lippi said no player was ruled out. "All players from 18-40 years-old enter my plans," he said. I am here to continue a winning streak. I have the will to rediscover the great feeling from the World Cup. I restart with the squad I left, integrating other players, hopefully youngsters."

Lippi's first match back will be a friendly against Austria in Nice on Aug 20 before their World Cup qualifying campaign begins in Cyprus on Sept 6. *Reuters