Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco has backed striker Edin Dzeko to rediscover top form after a barren spell in front of goal.
Dzeko has hit eight league goals in Serie A this season, but the 31-year-old has found the net only once since October, in a 3-1 victory over SPAL on December 1.
Saturday’s trip to Serie A champions Juventus would be an ideal time for Dzeko to end his dry spell, with Roma fourth in the table, three points behind Massimiliano Allegri’s side.
Di Francesco feels it is only a matter of time until Dzeko is back among the goals, although Patrik Schick is an appealing attacking alternative.
“He is living with a great desire to score, with great positivity, and with great desire to make himself helpful to the team,” the Roma coach told a pre-match news conference.
“He does not have anxiety and anguish about the lack of goals, which I am sure will come, because he has the talent.
“Schick — you have seen him, he is growing from all points of view. To help him improve I have to put him on the pitch and get him to score goals. He has a physical talent, not just a technical one. Let’s let him mature and grow, but he is not yet a champion.”
Di Francesco: “I thank Allegri for his complimentary words. He’s a fantastic coach in every respect. Higuain is lethal, Dybala an outstanding footballer and Mandzukic can completely disrupt the opponents’ back line.”
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 22, 2017
Roma will come up against a number of familiar faces when they visit Juve, with Allegri confirming Wojciech Szczesny will deputise for injured goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Mehdi Benatia will line up in defence, while former Giallorossi midfielder Miralem Pjanic is likely to feature in midfield.
Italian media outlets have made much of Juve featuring a cluster of former Roma stars in their ranks, but Di Francesco does not believe it is relevant.
“What influences the thinking of players is not of interest — when I chose to come to Rome as a player I created a special bond with the people that were here,” Di Francesco said. “I can say that I also had the chance to go and play for Juventus but chose Roma.
“Juventus are a huge club but for me it would be wonderful to achieve something with Roma. I’m not interested in what other people think — I’ll just focus on my own thoughts.
“I’d like to change people’s mentality, of making premature judgements, and to improve the environment we have here — it’s something that can easily be blamed for shortcomings.
“We have to improve a great deal. Juventus should be an example of how to become a great club, but it’s so great to do that here, where the sun shines and we have wonderful supporters.”