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Inzaghi to miss clash with Wales

© Reuters 2002

ROME, Oct 14 (Reuters) - AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi has been ruled out of Wednesday's European championship qualifier against Wales because of a foot injury and also looks doubtful to return to Italian league action at the weekend.

The forward aggravated a foot injury during Italy's 2004 Euro 2004 qualifier against Yugoslavia on Saturday and is struggling to be fit for his club's weekend Serie A match against Atalanta.

"I played against Yugoslavia in pain, a pain that's now making it difficult to walk. I can't put my foot on the ground," he was quoted as saying in the Corriere dello Sport newspaper on Monday.

"To continue playing would be an enormous risk. I don't want to make the same mistake I made when I was at Juventus and a slight groin strain ended up in a two-month layoff.

"I want to be clear: I love playing for the national team. But I'll only come back when I'm fit...Very probably I won't be able to play for Milan (against Atalanta)."

Inzaghi's place in the team for Wednesday's Group Nine game in Cardiff will be filled by England-based Massimo Maccarone, who made an explosive debut for Italy when he earned a crucial penalty in Italy's 2-1 win over England in a friendly in March.

Inzaghi has been scoring freely in Serie A and the Champions League despite the foot injury for the last three weeks, but after a subdued performance against Yugoslavia, he has decided to take a rest.

Maccarone was playing in Serie B with Empoli when he made his Italy debut. Since a transfer to Middlesbrough in the close season he has scored four goals in the English premier league.

Maccarone initially feared that a move abroad could result in being overlooked for a national team place. This call-up, however, has raised his hopes that he could start ahead of established strikers such as AS Roma's Vincenzo Montella.

"I've won a bet with myself," he was quoted as saying in Corriere dello Sport. "I chose to go abroad to make my debut in a top division, I started well and now the national team is calling."

"Wales won't be easy, for sure," he added. "They (the Welsh) are people who never give in. You find spaces, however, more easily in their football, just like you do in the English game. And I've already taken advantage of them four times."

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