Montolivo ready to deputise

  • Last Updated: June 10 2010, 14:03 BST

Riccardo Montolivo is ready to step in as Andrea Pirlo's replacement in Italy's opening two World Cup games.

Montolivo - ready to fill Pirlo's boots in opening group games.

The experienced Pirlo is set to miss games against Paraguay and New Zealand through a calf injury but could return in time for the Azzurri's final Group F match against Slovakia on June 24.

With Pirlo out, Italy coach Marcello Lippi is likely to give Fiorentina midfielder Montolivo a starting place against Paraguay on Monday.

"Pirlo is a special player," said Montolivo.

"But I think there are two or three Italian players that can play in his position when he is missing.

"I have played in Pirlo's position this season.

"I believe this role suits me, it's ideal for me."

Montolivo is determined to grasp his chance with both hands.

He said: "In 2006, I watched the World Cup on TV, now I am here.

"This is the most important tournament in my career and I am thrilled.

"The experience of playing in the Champions League this year has given me added confidence and I am ready to have a say."