Juventus take on Sampdoria tomorrow in Serie A action with the Bianconeri looking to make up ground on the Milan pair heading up the table.
Speaking to the media ahead of the trip, coach Andrea Pirlo spoke about much vaunted youngster Nicolò Fagioli who made his first team debut in the 4-0 win over SPAL in the Coppa Italia midweek.
“He did well against SPAL, he can replace [Manolo] Portanova who has joined Genoa. He is part of the first team and he will have some chances to play with the U 23 squad.”
Tomorrow’s opponents sit in tenth place after winning three in their last four, including a victory against Inter Milan too.
“Sampdoria are a good team, they are living a good moment. They have players with great qualities and a deep squad too
“It will be a difficult game, like it always happens when you face the teams of Mister Ranieri. I respect him so much.”
Pirlo provided an update on the squad, including Paulo Dybala who remains sidelined and Federico Chiesa.
“Today everyone should train with the group, except Dybala who is still recovering. We’ll evaluate him day by day, he still feels pain at his knee sometimes, but hopefully we are on the right track.
“We have many important games ahead of us, we’ll need to recover energies and decide who will play.
“Chiesa is feeling well, he has recovered from an ankle injury and he will start tomorrow.”
No one could have quite predicted the immediate impact young midfielder Weston McKennie has made on this team, where can he get better going forward?
“McKennie is young and has so much room for improvement. We were the quickest one to sign him and we are happy he is part of the squad.
“He is a humble guy who always wants to improve, especially on a technical level. He needs to improve when he receives the ball, but he knows this is only a starting point.”
In response to a reporter’s comment that Alvaro Morata has been struggling with injuries of late, Pirlo was quick to jump in.
“I never said Morata was struggling. He had an abductor problem, but now he is feeling well. Tomorrow he will be at his best. He lives with enthusiasm, he is calm and we consider him very important for Juventus. He will start along with Ronaldo tomorrow.”
Cristiano Ronaldo has fallen foul of the authorities after he broke COVID restrictions leaving the Piemonte region to go on a short holiday.
“He had a day off and he could do what he wanted. He takes responsibility for what he does.”
The January transfer window is almost over, and Pirlo remained non-committal if Sami Khedira would be leaving.
“We’ve already spoke about him, he’s been training with us since the beginning of the season, let’s see what will happen.”