Milan battleaxe Gennaro Gattuso has laid down the gauntlet ahead of the Italians opening Group C match against Denmark on Monday.

The combative midfielder vented his frustrations at his likely exclusion from the starting line up, and further attacked coach Giovanni Trapattoni for leaving out Milan team-mate Andrea Pirlo.

“I’ve been part of the squad for five years yet it still seems like it is my first year. I’ve made 31 appearances which makes me the 10th most capped player in the squad,” said Gattuso.

“I hope that the possibility of playing from the start will be given to me as well,” he added.

Gattuso, whose form this season was instrumental in Milan’s championship success, also paid tribute to team-mate Pirlo.

“I find it absurd that we won’t see him on the field because at international level he is one of the best in the world from a tactical point of view.”

Meanwhile, Gattuso’s Italian colleague, Stefano Fiore, expects to shake of a slight ankle injury and hopes to be fit for Monday.

The midfielder has also been linked with a move away from cash-strapped Lazio, with Barcelona his favored destination.

“Who wouldn’t want to play there,” stated Fiore,

“Barcelona and Real Madrid are dream squads for any footballer’.