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Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has undergone successful surgery for a back injury sustained at the World Cup.

His club team Juventus said in a statement that the operation late Sunday in Milan lasted about an hour.

It did not say when he will be ready to play, but surgeon, Maurizio Fornari told the ANSA news agency that he expected Buffon to be sidelined for about three months.

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Buffon exited after the first half of Italy's opening match against Paraguay with a herniated disk in his back. Italy, the defending champion, exited at the group stage of the World Cup without a single victory.

"I should probably have had it operated on earlier," Buffon said. "I have had this problem since the start of 2008, but it got worse recently when the hernia meant the nerve was trapped.

"All the same, it is OK now and I'm happy that the surgery went well."

Buffon was replaced for the remainder of Italy's time in South Africa by Federico Marchetti, but is likely to return as first choice after new coach Cesare Prandelli said he wants to make him Italy captain.

Juventus has signed Marco Storari from AC Milan as cover for Buffon. Storari will compete with Austrian Alex Manninger for the goalkeeper's position. Manninger has been Buffon's usual replacement since joining the club in 2008.

"Both Alex and Marco have great experience, more than I have," Buffon said. "They have always done well when they play and I'm convinced no one will notice my absence."

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