Roma v Inter on after strike suspension

MILAN, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The suspension of this weekend's Serie A players' strike has come at a bad time for beleaguered AS Roma, who could have done with Saturday off rather than hosting champions and leaders Inter Milan.

Roma were close runners-up to Inter last term having become favourites in the run-in when they defeated their big rivals at home only to throw away their advantage in a loss to Sampdoria.

The ghosts of April's capitulation have continued to haunt Claudio Ranieri's cash-strapped side at the start of this season where they have so far failed to win a game.

Wednesday's 2-1 defeat at promoted Brescia was symptomatic of their problems with goalkeeper Julio Sergio seriously injuring his ankle and a raft of refereeing decisions going against them, so much so that the Romans plan a formal complaint.

Media speculation has linked former Italy coach Marcello Lippi with the club and despite official denials, Ranieri is taking nothing for granted.

"There are those who move in the shadows. The newspapers have come up with first and last names, so they know something too," the coach cryptically told reporters.

Roman warriors Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi missed the Brescia defeat through injury and face a race against time to be fit for Saturday when a packed Stadio Olimpico is still expected despite the up-for-sale team's early woes.

NO MERCY

Treble winners Inter will show no mercy now they have hit their stride with a 4-0 home win over Bari on Wednesday when last term's hero Diego Milito broke his scoring drought.

Rafael Benitez's new side top the table with 10 after four games with surprise packages Chievo and Brescia a point behind.

AC Milan, picked as favourites by some pundits to stop Inter winning their sixth straight scudetto this term after the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, are already five points adrift of their dominant rivals following Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Lazio.

The Rossoneri have won only one game out of four, the 4-0 win over Lecce in the opener before forward Ibrahimovic joined.

Fellow new signing Robinho is not yet fully fit while Alexandre Pato and Massimo Ambrosini wil again miss Saturday's home game with Genoa through injury.

"When everyone is fit it wil be another Milan," new coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose side have not won Serie A since 2004, told reporters after a disjointed showing at Lazio.

Chievo host Lazio in Sunday's main programme of games.

The Italian players' union had called a strike for this weekend in a dispute over a collective contract with Serie A but on Tuesday they decided to postpone the walkout to allow more dialogue, although future industrial action could still follow.


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