CARETAKER: Di Biagio will take care of the Azzurri who has been without a coach since Giampiero Ventura was sacked late last year. Photo: Andrzej Grygiel/BackpagePix

MILAN – Under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio will oversee Italy's friendlies against England and Argentina while the country awaits the appointment of a new national coach, Italian football federation presidential candidate Damiano Tommasi said Wednesday.

The Azzurri have been without a coach since Giampiero Ventura was sacked after the four-time champions failed to qualify for the World Cup finals last November.

The 43-year-old Tommasi, now head of the Italian Players' Union, is bidding to succeed outgoing federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio in elections on January 29.

“Among the first things to do, immediately after the election of the federation president, will be preparing for the two friendlies against England and Argentina,” said former Roma midfielder Tommasi. “I believe Di Biagio is already working on them.”

Italy play Argentina on March 23, and then travel to England four days later.

Former Italy international Di Biagio, 46, has been coaching the national U21 side since 2013, leading them to the semi-finals of last year's European championships.

Earlier Tavecchio said he did not expect a new coach to be selected until before June.

“I'm in charge until January 29, and I don't think that by that date there will be the new national team coach,” the 74-year-old said on the sidelines of the presentation of the new 2017-2018 Panini Collection in Milan. I won't be the one that chooses the new coach. I can also tell you that the best coaches are under contract until June. It's difficult for the new coach to be appointed before then.”

Among the names being touted are Zenit Saint-Petersburg's Roberto Mancini, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and former Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti.

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