Pirlo doubtful for top-of-table tussle

Brief news ahead of this weekend's Serie A matches:

Unbeaten Juventus may be without influential midfielder Andrea Pirlo for the first time this season for Saturday's top-of-the-table clash against Lazio.

Pirlo, ever-present since his off-season move from Milan, pulled out of Thursday's training after taking a knock to his knee.

The Bianconeri, who also face Napoli at the San Paolo on Tuesday in a rearranged fixture, are level on 22 points with Lazio, having played a game fewer.

Lazio coach Edy Reja has urged striker Djibril Cisse to have patience after the Frenchman's goal drought stretched to 10 league games in last weekend's goalless draw at Napoli.

"He must be patient because he has the quality," the veteran coach told reporters. "The spaces you are allowed are different in Italy, defenders are attentive and physically tough. I hope his run ends as soon as possible but I have complete faith in him."

Cisse, whose only goal for the club came in their opening fixture against Milan, should recover from a muscle injury for the Juve match. German Miroslav Klose, who has hit six Serie A goals since joining Lazio in June, also faces a late fitness test.

AC Milan striker Antonio Cassano resumed light training this week 20 days after undergoing minor heart surgery but the Italian is not expected to return to action until late in the season.

Third-placed Milan, who have won five of their last six matches, host Chievo Verona in Sunday's late match.

Fifth-placed AS Roma have been hit by injuries ahead of Friday's mouthwatering clash at fourth-placed Udinese.

Along with defenders Cicinho and Aleandro Rosi, skipper Francesco Totti, who returned to action last weekend after a six-week absence, is out with a sprained ankle, and fellow striker Marco Borriello is sidelined by a thigh strain.

Coach Luis Enrique, who has not started the same 11 in consecutive matches this season, said his side would attack despite the chopping and changing.

"Our way of playing is not negotiable," he told a news conference on Thursday. "Udinese are a dangerous side, but I want opponents to adapt their game to our way of playing not the other way around."

Struggling Inter Milan forward Diego Milito has pledged his allegiance to the club despite failing to command a regular place under coach Claudio Ranieri.

The Argentine, who struck the goals that brought Champions League glory to Inter 18 months ago, has sat out the last two league matches, with Ranieri preferring Italian Giampaolo Pazzini as the spearhead striker.

"My future is Nerazzurro," Milito, who has scored three Serie A goals this season, told Gazzetta TV. "Let's not talk about what happened two seasons ago. Not even the team can repeat that or, at least, it would be very difficult to do so."

Inter, who are two places above the drop zone, travel to mid-table Siena on Sunday.

Fiorentina coach Delio Rossi is again likely to be without talented forward Stevan Jovetic as he makes an emotional return on Sunday to Palermo, the club he managed in two separate stints last season.

The new Viola boss, whose side progressed to the last 32 of the Coppa Italia in midweek, is set to keep faith with winger Alessio Cerci - scorer of both the side's goals in the 2-1 cup win over Empoli - against sixth-placed Palermo who boast a 100 percent record this season at the Renzo Barbera Stadium.


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