Rome - Marco Verratti said Wednesday he wants to take the opportunity this week to establish himself as the successor to Italy great Andrea Pirlo.
The 22-year-old Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is likely to start for the Azzurri against Bulgaria in Sofia in a European Championships qualifier as Juventus star Pirlo and Roma's Daniele De Rossi have been left out of the squad by coach Antonio Conte.
"I'm going to make the most of this opportunity," vowed Verratti.
"It's normal not to start out as first choice in the national team, it could hardly be any different when you have players like Pirlo and De Rossi ahead of you in the reckoning."
Pirlo is injured while De Rossi has been in poor form recently. Verratti had largely been overlooked by Conte until now.
"I'm starting to understand what Conte expects from me and I'm trying to put it into practice," added Verratti, who has scored two goals in 10 Italy appearances.
Verratti, though, is wary of being seen as the new Pirlo and having the hopes of a nation piled on his young shoulders.
"It's difficult to replace a player such as Pirlo," he said.
"But don't say it's up to me to take Italy's destiny in my hands. If you're not (Diego) Maradona or (Lionel) Messi, the national team cannot be just one person."
After their Group H clash in Sofia, Italy will host England in a friendly in Turin on March 31.