Two new old faces back in the fold

Posted by Julian De Martinis

Paolo Bruno/Getty ImagesGervinho is returning from injury and could see minutes this weekend versus Sassuolo.

With rumors flowing that Francesco Totti may not be available for Roma until 2014, recovering key parts of the attack is certainly high on the club's priority list. Rudi Garcia confirmed today that Gervinho and Mattia Destro are on the cusp of recovery and one of the two may be available as soon as Sunday.

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Unsurprisingly, the Giallorossi's attack has taken a hit since losing the captain and Ivorian against Napoli. Before that match the side had scored no fewer than two goals in every match played in Serie A; since then, there have been three consecutive matches with a single goal scored in each. Not all of that is due to their absences; certainly, scoring two every game is unsustainable and not altogether unsurprising against Udinese away and a Chievo side set up to defend. However, the contrast is clear and the side have not quite been the same without the captain’s irreplaceable creativity and the winger's devastating speed on the counter.

Destro is further from return than Gervinho but much closer than he's been in months to actual playing time. The coach has confirmed that the young Italian is back to full training with his teammates and will be working hard into the international break, giving credence to the murmurings that he may be ready for an appearance against Cagliari on the 25th.

While very far from match fitness, Destro has guile to his play and a penchant for being in the right place at the right time, something that Marco Borriello simply doesn't have. The latter has not been terrible for Roma -- he did score the winner against Chievo, after all, and his hold up play can be very good at times. Yet this side has thrived on playing quick calcio, and without Totti's through balls and Gervinho's speed, a fit Destro may well be a better piece to play up front.

Gervinho's return could occur as early as this weekend against Sassuolo. Since he has not been out for terribly long there is a possibility that he could be thrust back into a starting position, but what seems more likely is a substitute's appearance to help him find his game feet again.

Whether or not Roma need either of the pair this weekend remains to be seen. On one hand, Sassuolo recorded their first away victory just last matchday against Sampdoria and needed a last minute penalty in a 4-3 thriller. They also drew Napoli earlier this season at the Sao Paulo and will be high on confidence, having taken four points from their last two away trips. On the other hand, their 18th placed position speaks for itself and they've only kept one clean sheet all season.

To put it simply, Roma simply cannot afford to miss a massive opportunity this weekend to gain a lead over at least one of the teams underneath them; with Juventus hosting Napoli late on Sunday, a win would guarantee at least a two point gain over at least one of those two teams. A draw at the Juventus Stadium would be the best result for Roma, restoring the five point lead the team had at the top before the Torino draw and giving them breathing room to head into a difficult December.

At the very least, it seems Rudi Garcia may have a welcome option off the bench to help the side in the second half against Sassuolo, and barring any injuries that may occur during the break, the Frenchman can look forward to an even stronger squad on the other side, two weeks from now.


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