Juventus seeking to strengthen defence

VARESE - The once mighty Juventus are still trying to sign defenders less than a week before their season starts with a humbling Europa League third-round qualifier first leg.

Juve finished seventh in Serie A last term after one of their worst top-flight seasons and must open their campaign early at Ireland's Shamrock Rovers next Thursday.

"The priority is to see if there are players who can improve the defence," coach Luigi Del Neri, who left Sampdoria in May to succeed Alberto Zaccheroni, told reporters at Juve's training camp on Friday.

Juve have brought in Italy World Cup defender Leonardo Bonucci and winger Simone Pepe among others but a reported move for Wolfsburg forward Edin Dzeko appeared unlikely after the coach said he saw playmaker Diego as a second striker and was happy with five frontmen.

Sebastian Giovinco could leave so another winger may also be a possibility given Del Neri favours 4-4-2 following Juve's dabble with other formations last term.

Twice European Cup winners Juve, still recovering from a 2006 match-fixing demotion, were taking nothing for granted against unheralded Shamrock.

"It's 11 v 11. There won't be many fans but they'll be close to the pitch. It'll be tough," Del Neri added in the bowels of a luxury hotel.

Amauri looks to be behind David Trezeguet in the running for the main striker spot but felt refreshed after last term's troubles.

"I feel good. We've come back highly motivated, especially after last season," the Brazil-born Italian told Reuters.

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