UEFA Europa League

FONSECA: CLUJ HAVE SHOWN THEY ARE A STRONG SIDE

Coach Paulo Fonseca faced the media on Wednesday, to preview the impending Europa League meeting with Romanian side CFR Cluj.

The game at the Stadio Olimpico, which pits the two early frontrunners in Group A against each other, gets underway at 18:55 CET.

Here's what Fonseca had to say ahead of the game:

Everyone knows what Pedro has done in his career, yet his impact on Italian football has surprised many. Will it be asking too much from him to start this game as well?

“I expected what Pedro is doing right now. When I wanted to sign him, I knew that he could be an important player for this team. It’s not a surprise how he has performed so far. And that goes for his professionalism too, he’s a unique player."

“Will he play tomorrow? Let’s see, it’s true that he is played in every game so far and we need to make sure we manage things with both him and Micki [Henrikh Mkhitaryan]. He could play tomorrow though, we’ll see whether he starts or not.”

Given everything that is going on right now, do you not think it would be better to postpone Nations League fixtures? Are you a bit worried about what could happen during the next international break?

“Yes, I am a bit worried. Because we are very rigorous in our testing here – we do them almost every day – and we have a good handle on the situation. I know that national teams are doing the same thing, but I am worried nonetheless because players will be coming together from all countries and continents. I hope that nothing happens.”

Would Borja Mayoral’s adaptation be improved if he played in Serie A rather than in the Europa League?

“In my opinion it’s important that all my players get the chance to play games. That’s the same for Mayoral. I don’t have one team that plays in Serie A and another for the Europa League. Each game I make a choice. The most important thing is that Borja plays games. He needs to play, to adapt, both to his teammates and to the Italian league.”

Javier Pastore’s agent said that he could be back in action next week, is that ight? And how are Amadou Diawara and Riccardo Calafiori doing?

“Yes, I know that Pastore will be back [in Rome] next week. Then we’ll see how he is, and what sort of training programme he will need to follow right now. But the main thing is he will be back. We hope Diawara and Calafiori will be back with us soon.”

So far we’ve seen Roma struggle more in Europe than in the league – will you continue with all the rotation tomorrow?

“For me the key thing is to choose the best players for each game. I will do that again, while obviously paying attention to the fitness and condition of each player.”

How are Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus doing?

"They are training well, they are available for selection – we’ll see tomorrow whether they play or not.”

Considering Carles Perez might not be available, could tomorrow be a chance to play Mayoral and Edin Dzeko together?

“We’ll see tomorrow.”

Is Chris Smalling capable of starting three games in a row in the space of a week?

“Smalling won’t start the game tomorrow. It’s a lot for him to play three games in a week right now. We can’t forget that he didn’t do pre-season with us and he has only recently started training again with us. It’s better for him if he doesn’t start tomorrow’s game.”

The standings suggest tomorrow’s game is a meeting between the two top sides. Are Cluj your closest rivals in this group?

“Cluj are a very strong side, aggressive with specific qualities. Last season they were in a group with Lazio – then they went up against Sevilla, who ultimately won the competition. They didn’t lose against Sevilla over either leg, even if they eventually went out [on away goals]. They are a team that haven’t lost for 15 matches – so it won’t be easy.”

(Photo Getty Images)

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