Roma v Verona preview: Options thin for battle to keep mid-table at arm’s length

Jose Mourinho will have to find a way to fit together what he has available when Roma host Hellas Verona on Saturday evening.

At least nine first-team players are unavailable for Roma due to a range of factors, including injuries, suspensions and Covid-19. Mourinho has confirmed he will have to fill the squad with several youth players.

It is not ideal for a side winless in three games, who now must dig deep to overcome an opponent just four points behind them in Serie A.

Mourinho will likely have to revert to a back four, since Gianluca Mancini is suspended and Roger Ibanez is injured. It means Chris Smalling and Marash Kumbulla – against the club from whom he arrived in 2020 – should start at centre-half.

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Working out who to play out wide will also be difficult. Stephan El Shaarawy, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Carles Perez are all absent from the squad, while Nicolo Zaniolo is a doubt. Perhaps Ainsley Maitland-Niles will get to make his fifth Serie A start further forward, and Felix Afena-Gyan could get a chance.

Roma v Verona implications

Verona were the first club to condemn Mourinho to a defeat as Roma boss during the reverse fixture. They won that 3-2 and go into this meeting on the back of a 4-0 win over Udinese.

Roma have only lost two of their last 10 home games, so they will be hoping not to suffer another that would see Verona close the gap to one point.

In contrast, a win for La Magica would see them leapfrog rivals Lazio into sixth place – at least until Maurizio Sarri’s side play tomorrow.

Roma will be keen to keep their own European hopes alive and will therefore try to navigate the Verona clash as best they can.

It kicks off at 5pm UK time. BT Sport 2 will have live coverage from 5:15.

Get in the mood for matchday by learning these AS Roma chants.

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