Fonseca: ‘Smalling and Mayoral will start’

Roma coach Paolo Fonseca confirms Chris Smalling will start tomorrow’s Europa League clash against CSKA Sofia and insists he trusts Borja Mayoral.

“It will be important to have the right attitude. CSKA Sofia won in Basel, they are a strong team. They have physical strength and have strong players in the one-on-one,” Fonseca said at a press conference.

“They have many positive points, we must be focused and have the right attitude and not to let them take confidence.”

Chris Smalling missed the last two games with a mild knee injury but he will return to action tomorrow.

“Smalling will start the game,” Fonseca confirmed.

“As you know, Smalling is important to us, but he has no direct relationship to the team’s defensive performance.

“These three guys [Gianlca Mancini, Marash Kumbulla and Roger Ibañez] have almost always played so far and have always done well.

“Smalling is a great and important defender, but these guys have always done well.”

The 47-year-old did also confirm Borja Mayoral will start up front.

“Borja is a striker and he will always play as a striker. He is young and needs to adapt, he had always played in a different reality.

“He worked a lot against Young Boys, it was a difficult game, in a synthetic field with a very difficult first half. We must understand that he is young and needs to adapt, but I have faith in him.”

Roma draw against Milan on Monday and the Portuguese tactician believes his team can improve.

“It’s true that Milan have a strong team but we didn’t do what we usually do. We allowed two, three situations and it’s not a problem of structure, it’s about what we can do better. We have always shown that we are confident on set pieces and corner kicks. That’s why I’m not worried.

“We played a good game against Milan. We must improve in not conceding goals against these teams because after it is difficult to change the game.

“We didn’t have a good approach, we conceded a goal right away in the first and in the second half, it can’t happen.

“We have to be more careful at the start of the game, but the team has shown great character and confidence, I think they played a good game.”

With the Covid situation in Italy getting worse, Fonseca insists he trusts the authorities and their decisions and doesn’t believe a change of Serie A’s format is needed.

“It’s a complicated situation. I have faith in the authorities to make the best decisions for football. I want to believe that nothing will change, for a fairer championship it is better to stay like this.”


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