Italy defender Georgio Chiellini has come off injured during the Euro 2012 Group C match versus the Republic of Ireland after receiving a knock early in the second half.
The Juventus centre-back was involved in a tangle with striker Kevin Doyle and was immediately replaced by his club team-mate Leonardo Bonucci.
The Azzurri were leading 1-0 when the injury arose and leading Group C, but the injury could be a major lost if they progress to the quarter-final stage.
The centre-back had recovered from a thigh injury that he picked up in a win over Atalanta towards the end of the Serie A season, and there were doubts about whether the Old Lady defender would make a full recovery ahead of this summer's tournament.
The substitution was swift and possibly a precaution, but a reoccurrence of the thigh injury could see him miss the rest of the competition.
The 27-year-old has been central to Cesare Prandelli's three-man defence in their draw against Spain, despite also making a mistake which led to Mario Mandzukic's goal in their match versus Croatia.
Goal.com's Italy expert Mark Doyle commented on the Chiellini substitution, saying: "Chiellini being forced off after another tangle with Doyle is very worrying.
"It should not cause too much disruption given his Juventus colleague Bonucci has come on in his place, meaning the Azzurri will still have two Bianconero at the heart of their defence.
"However, Chiellini did not look at all happy and he ever appeared to suggest he's suffered a serious injury, perhaps a break or a muscle tear. That would be a massive blow for the Azzurri given his importance to the team and his versatility."
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