Amid speculation Antonio Conte could return to Italy, former Chelsea midfielder Craig Burley questions whether he will survive the season at Chelsea.

Under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio was promoted Monday to take over Italy’s senior national team on a caretaker basis for friendlies against Argentina and England next month.

The Azzurri have been without a coach since Gian Piero Ventura was fired following a playoff loss to Sweden in November that ruled Italy out of the World Cup for the first time in six decades.

“Di Biagio’s first job is to restore enthusiasm and dedication,” said Roberto Fabbricini, who was appointed last week as the Italian football federation’s emergency commissioner. “We’re confident he’ll be up to the job.”

Italy play Argentina in Manchester, England, on March 23 then face England in London four days later. The Azzurri‘s next competitive fixture isn’t until Sept. 7 against Poland in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

The 46-year-old Di Biagio played for Italy as a midfielder at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

Luigi Di Biagio has been Italy’s under-21 coach since July 2013.

“It’s a big opportunity,” Di Biagio said. “I can’t wait to start. We’ve got two big, difficult matches. “Fortunately I know well 80 percent of the kids who are part of the national team, and I even had the chance to play with some of them.”

Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti and former Italy coach Antonio Conte are among those being considered for the full-time job. Fabbricini mentioned Mancini as a candidate last week.

On Monday, he also mentioned Nantes manager Claudio Ranieri as a possibility. The 66-year-old coached Leicester to an improbable English Premier League title in 2016.

“Ranieri is no less appealing than Mancini. He’s got the credentials,” Fabbricini said. “But we need to be attentive from a procedural point of view. Many of these coaches are currently under contract. Either they free themselves up or it will be difficult to ask them to consider the job.”

Fabbricini also suggested that many current Serie A coaches could be considered — perhaps referring to Massimiliano Allegri at six-time defending champion Juventus.

“It’s Alessandro Costacurta’s job to get in contact with the candidates,” Fabbricini said, referring to his vice commissioner and the former AC Milan and Italy defender.


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