Fonseca: ‘Roma believe in top four’

Paulo Fonseca said Roma will not give up on the top four in Serie A and confirmed he has already decided between Borja Mayoral and Edin Dzeko for tomorrow.

The Giallorossi sit sixth in Serie A with 50 points from 28 games, five points behind the top four in Italy, but the coach said he doesn’t feel the players have given up on qualifying for the Champions League.

“No, it’s the opposite,” Fonseca said at a press conference. “I don’t feel this, there are still 30 points available.”

Roma face Sassuolo at the Mapei Stadium on Saturday and Fonseca said La Lupa are not distracted by the clash with Ajax in the Europa League next week.

“The priority is tomorrow’s match,” he said. “I’m only focused on Sassuolo and afterwards I’ll think about Ajax.

“It will be difficult, they want to have the initiative, it will be tough. We must be 100 per cent to win. I saw the lads motivated, ready to play a good game.”

This means he has not thought about the alternations between the cup and the League for Borja Mayoral and Dzeko.

“No, I’m only thinking about the next match,” he reiterated. “I have chosen who will play tomorrow, then we’ll see for the cup.

“They [Sassuolo and Ajax] are two teams that always want to have the initiative, but they are very different in how they attack.

“I prefer to play against this type of teams, but it depends on us, on what we do.”

Fonseca also gave an injury update and said Chris Smalling will not be ready for the match against the Neroverdi, but believes Bryan Cristante is ready.

“Smalling is better, but he’s not ready for tomorrow. He’s improving, but it’s true that he needs more time to come back and we don’t want to take any chances.

“Cristante is ready and will play. It may be possible to use [Leonardo] Spinazzola or [Rick] Karsdorp in the three-man defence.

“The situation is under control. Today, Cristante trained with the team, he’s not at risk, and I think he will play until the end of the season.

“[Jordan] Veretout is better and today he trained with the team, he will be called up. Next week, he will be 100 per cent.”

Fonseca said Stephan El Shaarawy has improved in recent weeks and will soon be back in top shape.

“He came later. In the last few games, we have seen him in a better condition,” Fonseca said. “He needs to play more and in doing so, he will soon be the player we know again.”

And Fonseca said he will reassess Henrikh Mkhitaryan next week.

“He’s working individually, he’s doing much better. We’ll see next week.”

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