DUISBURG: Italy defender Alessandro Nesta has only a slim chance of recovering from a recurring right thigh injury in time for Friday's World Cup quarterfinal against Ukraine.

``It's not easy, but we'll try to get him back as soon as possible,'' Italy team doctor Enrico Castellacci said on Tuesday. ``We'll do more medical tests on Wednesday.''

Nesta has been regularly bothered by the muscle problem for the past two months. He aggravated the injury in Italy's 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in the first round and was sidelined for the 1-0 victory over Australia in the second round on Monday.

His injury creates complications for Italy. Marco Matterazzi, who replaced Nesta against Australia, has to serve a one-match ban for receiving a red card against the Socceroos. That leaves fourth-choice Andrea Barzagli to fill the void, with no other central defenders on Italy's bench in case of further injury. The Italian federation confirmed that Matterazzi had not received any additional sanction besides the standard one-match ban for a red card. AC Milan's Nesta (30) has played 77 times for Italy since 1996. The only member of Italy's current team who has played more is fellow central defender Fabio Cannavaro, who has 96 caps. AP

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