Rome: Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi could face a month on the sidelines, according to reports after picking up a thigh injury in the first of Italy's World Cup 2014 group B qualifiers on Friday.
Italy were lucky to come away with a 2-2 draw from Bulgaria but had to finish with 10 men after De Rossi's stretch to block Bulgaria's 66th minute equaliser left him with a thigh injury.
Although De Rossi was holding the back of his thigh in pain, he was unable to be replaced because Italy had used all their substitutes and had to leave the field.
"He wanted to go back on but we told him not to risk it," revealed Italy coach Cesare Prandelli.
Reports in Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper suggested De Rossi may have suffered a contraction of the femural bicep, an injury which could sideline him for up to a month.
De Rossi is expected to return to his club Roma, who have a game against Bologna next weekend, and take no part in Italy's second qualifier against Malta in Modena on Tuesday.
Italy's following qualifier is away to Armenia on October 12.