Del Piero ready for new Juve role

ROME - Fit-again Alessandro Del Piero is keen to get his campaign underway after playing just 10 minutes with Juventus so far this season, but the captain may have to take up an unfamiliar role to get back in the team.

Second-place Juventus, who play Udinese on Sunday and trail leaders Inter Milan by five points, have adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation under coach Ciro Ferrara that seeks to make the most out of new signing Diego's playmaking talents.

That system, however, leaves no room for Del Piero's favoured role, that of second striker. The captain, who has been hampered by back and thigh injuries, may have to play on the wing if he wants a slice of the action.

Former Juventus boss Didier Deschamps, now in charge of French club Olympique Marseille, doubts whether Del Piero could fit in.

"People want all the phenomenal players on the pitch together but Ferrara has to think about the team's balance," Deschamps told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"My answer is that you cannot have both Del Piero and (Italy winger Mauro) Camoranesi playing behind a lone striker - one or the other. It's complicated because knowing Del Piero I'm not sure how he'll take certain decisions."

Del Piero has previously shown reluctance to drop back into midfield, once saying he only wanted to be considered as a striker for Italy selection, and at 35 he may struggle with the tempo required in a less advanced position.

Juve's all-time top scorer, however, said he was prepared to play any role as he seeks to get regular playing time and show the form needed to win back his Italy place before next year's World Cup finals.

"I'm ready for Sunday, my championship can finally start," he told reporters this week. "My characteristics are those of a striker but I'm totally willing to do anything."

Midfielders Claudio Marchisio and Mohamed Sissoko are also on the mend after injuries and may be available this weekend, but forward Vincenzo Iaquinta is still out with a knee problem.

Udinese will be without suspended Italy striker Antonio Di Natale, who is Serie A's top scorer with nine goals.

Inter visit Bologna on Saturday while third-placed AC Milan take on Cagliari at the San Siro on Sunday.