Ciro Immobile has backed Giampiero Ventura to guide Italy to the World Cup through the play-offs.
The Azzurri finished second in their qualifying group behind Spain and now face Sweden over two legs to decide who will head to Russia in the summer.
Friday’s first match sees the pair meet in Solna before renewing their rivalry in Milan on Monday.
Failing to qualify will be deemed a huge failure for the four-time world champions and will undoubtedly lead to Ventura’s dismissal.
The 69-year-old has come under fire in recent months for his tactical approach but is a coach Immobile knows well having worked together at Torino.
While the press continues to ask questions of the Azzurri mentor, one of his favourite lieutenants has fiercely defended him, insisting the entire squad is behind the boss.
“We knew it would be hard to get through with Spain, we met one of the strongest teams in the world and we knew it was difficult,” Immobile said.
“Now we have the play-offs and we’ll do our best to get through them and go to the World Cup, if we don’t it’ll be a disappointment.
“We’re aware of our strength, and we know it’s difficult for the coach to only see us every once in a while.
I know him well, he just needs time to get everything he has in mind into our heads.”
Italy are 2.38 to win on Friday, with the draw 3.10 and Sweden 3.30. The Azzurri are currently 21.00 to win the World Cup, with Germany the 6.00 favourites ahead of France at 6.50.