Penpix of Italy squad

MILAN, May 20 (Reuters) - Penpix of Italy's 28-man provisional squad for the World Cup in South Africa:

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus). Goalkeeper. Born Jan. 28 1978. Caps 100.

Arguably still one of the best goalkeepers in the world but injury and Juve's poor form this season have affected his confidence. An ageing defence could leave him exposed but he is still commanding in the air and an excellent shot stopper.

Federico Marchetti (Cagliari). Goalkeeper. Born Feb. 7 1983. Caps 4.

Emerged as Buffon's deputy after two impressive seasons in Sardinia. Still lacks international experience and is classed as a young, up-and-coming player in Italy despite being 27.

Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli). Goalkeeper. Born March 26 1977. Caps 3.

Almost certain to be the third-choice keeper, De Sanctis has produced a string of steady displays in Serie A this term and never looks flustered.

Salvatore Sirigu (Palermo). Goalkeeper. Born Jan. 12 1987. Caps 0.

Became a regular with Palermo only at the start of the season under the tutelage of Walter Zenga but when the former Italy keeper was sacked Sirigu kept his place thanks to a string of mature displays beyond his years.

Gianluca Zambrotta (AC Milan). Full back. Born Feb. 19 1977. Caps 92. Goals 2.

The World Cup winner is a favourite of coach Marcello Lippi despite not always being first choice at Milan this term because of form and fitness worries. Can play on either side but is likely to be right back.

Christian Maggio (Napoli). Right back/right wing. Born Feb. 11 1982. Caps 3. Goals 0.

Can play in defence or midfield and his speedy runs could offer Italy an alternative they do not otherwise have. Good eye for goal.

Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus). Centre back. Born Sept. 13 1973. Caps 132. Goals 2.

The 2006 world player of the year is a shadow of the defender who led the Azzurri to World Cup glory four years ago. His pace, positioning and poise are now lacking. Italy's captain is expected to quit the international game after the tournament.

Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus). Centre back. Born Aug. 14 1984. Caps 28. Goals 2.

Will partner club team mate Cannavaro in Italy's defence having won many admirers at home and abroad for his never-say-die attitude. A goal threat from corners.

Mattia Cassani (Palermo). Centre back. Born Aug. 26 1983. Caps 2. Goals 0.

Little known outside Sicily, the defender has caught Lippi's eye even if other observers would look straight through him.

Leonardo Bonucci (Bari). Centre back. Born May 1 1987. Caps 1. Goals 0.

Made his debut in Italy's last friendly with Cameroon with Lippi short of defensive cover. Excellent at last-gasp tackles and a rare example of an Italian young player getting playing time in Serie A and reaching the national squad.

Salvatore Bocchetti (Genoa). Centre back. Born Nov. 30 1986. Caps 3. Goals 0.

A rare young player given a chance by Lippi, he can also play at full back but has suffered recently during Genoa's uninspiring end to the season.

Domenico Criscito (Genoa). Left back/Centre back. Born Dec. 30 1986. Caps 5. Goals 0.

The versatile young player has wrestled the left-back berth from Fabio Grosso, surprisingly dropped from the squad.

Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus). Right wing. Born Oct. 4 1976. Caps 53. Goals 5.

Had an injury-hit season for a poor Juve side but Lippi is a big fan of the World Cup winner despite the Argentine-born midfielder sometimes drifting out of games.

Simone Pepe (Udinese). Right wing/forward. Born Aug. 30 1983. Caps 13. Goals 0.

Can play on the right of midfield or in attack but after a bright start in Azzurri colours his squad place is now at risk.

Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan). Central midfield. Born May 19 1979. Caps 65. Goals 8.

Important to Lippi's system because the World Cup winner plays much further forward than he does for AC Milan. Dangerous with through balls and free kicks but needs to improve his goal tally.

Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma). Central midfield. Born July 24 1983. Caps 52. Goals 8.

One of the world's most dynamic midfielders, he can tackle, shoot and pass well. His temperament has calmed down from four years ago and he will be confident following Roma's successful season.

Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan). Central midfield. Born Jan. 9 1978. Caps 71. Goals 1.

Never the most gifted of players, tough-tackling World Cup winner Gattuso has suffered form loss following a string of injuries and is set to make the squad for his motivational qualities as much as anything else.

Claudio Marchisio (Juventus). Left wing/central midfield. Born Jan. 19 1986. Caps 3. Goals 0.

Chosen to fill the problem left-side berth in midfield when not injured during qualifying, the adaptable player has a keen eye for goal and a delightful touch but Juve's horrid season has not helped his progression.

Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria). Central midfield. Born Sept. 25 1981. Caps 15. Goals 1.

Dependable if little else, a doubtful starter likely only to be used in emergencies.

Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina). Central midfield. Born Jan. 18 1985. Caps 12. Goals 0.

Comfortable on the ball and has grown in maturity since taking over as Fiorentina captain. Improving in front of goal but can do better.

Andrea Cossu (Cagliari). Central midfield. Born Aug. 15 1984. Caps 1. Goals 0.

A surprise choice when he was given a first call-up for the 0-0 friendly draw with Cameroon in March. He set up three good chances in the game to impress Lippi.

Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina). Forward. Born July 7 1982. Caps 39. Goals 16.

Italy's main striker during qualification, Gilardino runs all day and is equally adept with his head or his feet. Can improve his play outside the area.

Vincenzo Iaquinta (Juventus). Forward. Born Nov. 21 1979. Caps 35. Goals 5.

Missed most of the season through injury but could end up being fresher than others in South Africa. Hard-work ethic makes him a favourite of Lippi, especially after improving his goals ratio at Juve.

Antonio Di Natale (Udinese). Forward. Born Oct. 13 1977. Caps 31. Goals 9.

Scored lots of goals for struggling Udinese this term and offers the added bonus of being able to play in left midfield or on the left of a front three if Lippi switches tactics.

Giampaolo Pazzini (Sampdoria). Forward. Born Aug. 2 1984. Caps 6. Goals 1.

In great form for Samp this season, Pazzini is lethal in the air with a salmon-like leap which defenders struggle to combat. In a battle for the final striker spot.

Marco Borriello (AC Milan). Forward. Born June 18 1982. Caps 4. Goals 0.

Had a marvellous season at Milan, keeping Filippo Inzaghi on the bench, but is not a definite for the World Cup squad. Acrobatic in the box but with a history of injury problems.

Fabio Quagliarella (Napoli). Forward. Born Jan. 31 1983. Caps 18. Goals 3.

A regular in the squad for three years, he has slipped down the pecking order after a less-than-prolific season at Napoli. Can score spectacular goals but miss easy chances.

Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal). Forward. Born Feb. 1 1987. Caps 14. Goals 3.

The only player in Italy's squad who plays abroad, Rossi adds good versatility as he can play as a second striker on in a front three. However, his recent displays for the Azzurri have been less than sparkling. (Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email