(Reuters) - The European Central Bank has approved a rescue plan drawn up by Italy's third-biggest lender, Monte dei Paschi di Siena <BMPS.MI>, two sources close to the matter said on Friday.

An official statement was expected shortly, the sources added.

Monte dei Paschi, weakened by years of losses, has been trying to put together a banking consortium for a planned 5 billion euro ($5.58 billion) share issue and is also looking to sell billions of euros of bad loans.

(Reporting by Reuters staff)