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FONSECA: "Pau Lopez will start, Florenzi has yet to recover"

Read everything the boss had to say ahead of Sunday's game against Cagliari...

The game at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 15:00 local time.

Could Bryan Cristante or Jordan Veretout play in the hole given your lack of options?

"This is one of the times when it will be easier for me to choose and for you to guess who will play because of all the absentees. I'm not going to give you any details, though."

How's this period been for Roma? What sort of match are you expecting against Cagliari?

"I'm expecting a very difficult game against a team who have made an excellent start to the campaign. They're on a good run of results. We've come through a tricky spell ourselves with little time to train and recover between games. The lads have been looking good fitness-wise and I hope we'll have enough to win the game tomorrow."

Who is better suited to playing in the hole, Bryan Cristante or Jordan Veretout? Is Javier Pastore up to playing two games in three days?

"It's difficult for Pastore to play two games so close together at the moment. As for the trequartista role, Cristante has played there before, although the way we play we need someone with different qualities in there, because our No. 10 does different things and takes up different spaces. Given the circumstances, we'll have to pick one of those two."

What more can you do to prevent injuries?

"I'm not going to go into the specifics of each and every injury. We're doing everything we can to prevent injuries - the club has a very strict injury-prevention policy based on scientific data. Hamstrings are the most common injury at this stage of the season and we've only had one of those. If we'd had a few more, you could perhaps put it down to poor planning.

"Often it's been old injuries flaring up again, or chance injuries you can do nothing to prevent - like [Davide] Zappacosta, [Lorenzo] Pellegrini and [Devid] Bouah. You can't control certain situations.

"The real question is are we trying to prevent them and the answer is yes. This is not something that only happens at Roma but at all clubs where, like us, they play lots of games on different fronts. So the question I'd ask is if this is happening at all the big European clubs competing at the top level, then are we all doing things wrong, are we all incompetent, or are all these back-to-back games appropriate for professional footballers? It doesn't just happen at Roma, where there's a high level of media focus, but at all teams where they play lots of games in a short spell."

How is Alessandro Florenzi?

"Unfortunately he hasn't recovered. He didn't train today because he's at home with the flu."

Will Pau Lopez return in goal?

"Yes, he'll start the game tomorrow."

Cristante is reported to have said that a draw away from home against Wolfsberg is not bad. Don't you think it would be better to show you're angry after drawing with a team like that?

"His words were probably extrapolated from a specific context. Everyone knows we're only happy when we win and that's what we set out to do regardless of the opposition. Maybe after the game, considering the result of the match between the other two teams in the group and the fact that we're still top, Cristante said that a draw was not the worst result.

"We always want to win and everyone was really annoyed in the dressing room after the game because we didn't. Cristante is one of the most ambitious players here. I prefer action to words and Cristante is one of our leaders and one of the most demanding players in the team."

There have been lots of mistakes with the final ball from players like Justin Kluivert and Nicolo Zaniolo. They've picked up lots of yellow cards too. Are you looking to address that?

"I agree. We often create openings but in the final third we make the wrong decision. That's happened a few times to Zaniolo and Kluivert. We're lacking a bit of precision in that area of the pitch when we need to play a pass or put in a cross. It's something we've discussed - we've stressed the importance of being more accurate in that area. A lot of it can be explained by their young age. I'm sure they'll become more accurate with time - it's all part of growing up as a footballer. Of course we must improve and be more effective.

"As for the yellow cards, I think some of them were right and some of them weren't. In the game against Lecce, for example, I think they were given out too easily. Often they were given in normal game situations."

Have you ever considered playing [Leonardo] Spinazzola as a left forward?

"No, that's not something I've considered for now."

Radja Nainggolan has said you need character to play for Roma and that the atmosphere in Rome is not that much different to elsewhere, in terms of the radio and TV. What do you think of the Rome 'goldfish bowl'?

"I don't want to comment on his words - that's his opinion. It's something that's been said in the build-up to a match, perhaps with the aim of creating a certain type of pressure. I understand that but I'd rather not comment on it.

"As for there being pressure, I think anyone would like to have this sort of pressure. If you can't handle it, you're not going to make it as a professional footballer. What I see and feel is constant support from our fans. There are lots of people who believe in us and create a wonderful atmosphere at home and who follow us away too. That's something we can be proud of and appreciate. You get pressure everywhere, especially when you're aiming to win things.

"Who wouldn't like to have this sort of pressure? If you can't handle it, you can get yourself a piece of land and grow potatoes or whatever - then you'd be more relaxed. Pressure is part and parcel of the game and you have to accept it."

Did you expect Nikola Kalinic to do better?

"I think everyone realises it was his first start in a long time, so he was never going to be at his best. He can do better and I'm sure he will. You know that because you've seen him in action before: he's a quality forward. He'll definitely get better, both in terms of his fitness and his understanding with the other players."

Cagliari have scored four of their nine goals from headers. Are Federico Fazio and Chris Smalling better suited than Juan Jesus and Gianluca Mancini for this game?

"If you're trying to get me to tell you who will play centre-back tomorrow, I'm not falling for it."
Source: As Roma
Saturday October 05, 2019
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