Di Francesco faces media ahead of Cagliari clash

Coach Eusebio Di Francesco sat down to face the media on Friday afternoon, ahead of Roma's Serie A clash against Cagliari in Sardinia.

The game at the Sardegna Arena gets underway at 18:00 local time.

Read what the coach had to say about his injury worries for tomorrow, the changes to the side he is considering, and much more...

Your midfield is an area that has improved greatly since the start of the season.

“They’re improving a great deal, with certain processes becoming more automatic, and getting better in the two phases of play. We need improvement however in certain areas, so as to help and protect the defensive line. We still need to work a great deal, even though I’ve seen good development from everyone.”

Are you expecting a physical encounter tomorrow?

“I’ve never seen a game that wasn’t physical. Physicality and technical ability always make the difference. They’ve got Leonardo Pavoletti, who I know well – he’s very good with his head. We need to be careful, particularly from crosses and set pieces.”

What aspect would you like to improve ahead of tomorrow’s match?

“We have to improve many things, particularly in our decision-making. We can’t look to solve everything right away, however. As I said before, we need to better protect the defensive line with our midfielders and give our players less of a chance to shoot on goal. We have to improve on that and we’re working on doing so.

"I underlined that before the match with Inter – we are able to score goals, but we have to make sure we allow our opponents fewer opportunities and it’s something we need to work on as a team.”

Do you think you’ll pick Alessandro Florenzi further up the pitch?

“It’s unlikely tomorrow but in future it’s something we’ll see. Perhaps during the game it could happen. Tomorrow he’ll start as a full back. Federico Fazio has fully recovered; the only problem we have now is that Kostas Manolas picked up a knock during a training game, so it’s 50-50 as to whether he’ll play.

"We’ll see how he is today and tomorrow – he’s got some swelling and can barely walk. I hope he recovers quickly. We need players, particularly at the moment because we’re limited in numbers.”

Diego Perotti and Javier Pastore returned against Inter. With a week’s training have they got enough minutes in their legs to play?

“Yes – perhaps Pastore more so than Perotti. However, neither of them will start the match tomorrow.”

You’ve made regular use of Steven Nzonzi and Bryan Cristante in the last two games. Are you considering alternatives to give them a break?

“The only alternative would be to include another defender. I’d like to involve Alessio Riccardi but he’s been with the national side until yesterday and only joined us today. He’s someone I’m keeping firmly in consideration; he’s only 17 years old and would be making his debut. At that age, we know at Roma you can bring out the best in players, as with Nicolo Zaniolo, or their confidence can take a hit.

"You need to take a balanced approach.  We don’t have a wealth of options but I’m weighing up some approaches that could help us in this period. Maybe I need to pray for things to sort themselves out.”

How is Ivan Marcano?

“He’s trained very well indeed. He’s in contention. I’ve got more options in that part of the pitch but the situation with Manolas means I’ll need to think hard about who to pick in the centre of defence.”

Is there anything you need to change in order to rectify this trend of injuries?

“We all need to look at ourselves. There are human errors and incorrect decisions. Lorenzo Pellegrini’s desire to recover and my desire to have him available meant his recovery programme sought to get him back as quickly as possible, then he suffered a setback. That’s part of our job. When you try to rush a player back, there are certain risks. But then again, we need players back, since we have so many games one after the other in this period.”

Against Inter we saw yet another refereeing error. What are your thoughts on VAR? Do you have any complaints?

“I could complain about a thousand things, but I don’t want to make excuses. I want to take responsibility for everything that happens. There have been many errors that have gone against us. We’ve spoken about VAR being there to help and there are certain situations that just have to be looked at more often. Obviously, apologies are made after a mistake but it’s us who lose out. I hope from now on that we have as few such errors go against us as possible.”

Was the team’s defensive positioning wrong for the Mauro Icardi goal?

“We usually mark zonally and with that corner kick we made some mistakes in our positioning. The defenders should have done better – Manolas sprung off both feet, when he could have got to the ball springing off just the one foot. When the ball came in, however, we weren’t in the right positions.

"We’ve been over it and we can’t make a mistake like that again. It’s an issue of concentration and positioning. The zonal versus man-marking debate is an old one.”