Roma v Udinese preview: El Shaarawy called up as Pedro returns

Roma are back in action at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday as they host Udinese in the early kick-off.

Looking to bounce back from their defeat to another team who wear black and white, Roma will be hoping their return to home soil goes better than their trip to face Juventus last week.

Despite that 2-0 loss, Roma are still well in contention for a top-four place. Their form against bigger teams has been questionable, but against teams they are expected to beat, they have usually delivered.

That will hopefully be the case again on Sunday, when Roma welcome an Udinese team who are in the bottom half of the table. However, their visitors have won their last two games in a row, and have kept clean sheets in their last three, so will be no pushovers.

Roma discovered that in the reverse fixture, when only Pedro’s first goal for the club separated the two sides. Coincidentally, the Spaniard is able to return to the squad after an absence of nearly a month.

Despite Paulo Fonseca suggesting that fellow attacker Stephan El Shaarawy is not yet ready to play, the Italian is a surprise inclusion in the matchday squad.

Definitely ruled out, though, is Marash Kumbulla, who has picked up a knock in training. Presumably, Bryan Cristante will have to drop into defence, in between Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibanez.

Further upfield, Fonseca has a big decision to make about who starts as the centre-forward. Edin Dzeko is back in contention again, but Borja Mayoral also remains an option.

For Udinese, the most important player is undoubtedly midfielder Rodrigo De Paul. However, Roma will also be keeping an eye on goalkeeper Juan Musso, who has been linked with the club as a potential successor to Pau Lopez.

Incidentally, Fonseca has confirmed that Lopez will keep his place in goal ahead of Antonio Mirante for this game.

Roma lost this fixture last season, but since then, have been dominant at home. In fact, the Giallorossi are yet to taste defeat as the hosts in any Serie A game this season.

The target is to maintain that record – the only remaining of its kind out of all the teams in Serie A this campaign. Three points on Sunday would be valuable in Roma’s pursuit of a top-four finish.

The game kicks off at 11:30am UK time and will be available to watch live on Premier Sports 2.

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