Prandelli frets over lack of match practice

ROME - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has labelled the players' strike an own goal and said he is worried about his squad's lack of match practice.

Italy face Euro 2012 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Slovenia in the next week with many of their squad yet to play a competitive match this season.

The Serie A season, which starts later than most in Europe, was further delayed at the weekend when the players went on strike and refused to play the opening round of matches.

"The strike has been an own goal on everyone's part," Prandelli told reporters. "We hoped that at the weekend they could have played, given that there are now 10 days to discuss things.

"They announced an agreement on December 8 last year and I don't know what has changed in those months."

The Italian Players Union (AIC) called its members out on Friday after Lega Serie A, representing the first division clubs, failed to sign an agreement over players' rights that was reached last December and had narrowly averted a strike then.

Italy visit the Faroe Islands on Friday and host Slovenia four days later in Euro Group C which they lead with 16 points from six games, five ahead of Slovenia.

Even the unrated Faroes worried Prandelli, whose side beat Spain 2-1 in a friendly earlier this month.

"Everyone thinks that a win is in the bag, but in reality it depends on how we address the match. The lack of matches worries me," said Prandelli.

"I'd be even more worried if we had to face a big team such as France."