Buffon was superb for Italy against Armenia on Friday but is a major doubt after suffering a thigh injury.
That means the pressure could be on de Sanctis to keep guard in a pivotal qualifier at the San Siro.
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Since Guus Hiddink arrived at the helm, Chelsea have improved considerably after a tricky start to the campaign.
Newcastle United are staring down the barrel of relegation to the Championship for the second time in the past eight years.