De Rossi injury my fault, says coach Spalletti

Milan (AFP) –


Roma coach Luciano Spalletti has assumed "responsibility" for the injury that has sidelined Daniele de Rossi but gave fans some cheer by announcing the imminent return of Kevin Strootman and Francesco Totti.

Italy midfielder De Rossi has been sidelined for a month after suffering a calf injury in the dying stages of Roma's 2-0 Champions League defeat to Real Madrid in midweek.

It is the fifth time De Rossi has injured the same calf in the last year and a half and means he will miss the return at the Santiago Bernabeu in three weeks as well as four or five Serie A games.

Spalletti, who began his second spell at the Serie A club last month after replacing sacked Rudi Garcia, said it is partly his fault.

"Unfortunately I feel the weight of De Rossi's injury on me, because when you send a player out to play and 10 minutes later he pulls up injured it means I should have taken more care, and I didn't," said Spalletti.

"I'm not looking for excuses because it's me who makes certain decisions and I assume responsibility. We've lost a valuable player but we have the chance for someone else to step in."

French midfielder William Vainqueur played in De Rossi's usual position at the heart of Roma's defensive midfield against Madrid and could do the same on Sunday at home against Palermo.

Spalletti, meanwhile, said Dutch international Stootman has recovered from a lengthy injury lay-off that has seen him make just six appearances last season and none this term so far.

Both he and Totti, who has missed most of this season with injury, could feature at some point on Sunday: "From tomorrow, Strootman will be back. He's doing well."

Totti could partner Edin Dzeko up front at the Stadio Olimpico as Roma, runners-up the past two seasons, continue their bid for a top three finish and a chance at Champions League football next season.

"If you ask me, he's ready to play from the start tomorrow," said Spalletti.

"That doesn't exclude Dzeko, in fact they could both play together."

Roma sit in fourth place in Italy's top flight, just two points off the Champions League qualifying positions but 11 points behind leaders and champions Juventus.

Juventus sit top with a two-point cushion on Napoli, but after seeing their 15-game winning streak ended in a scoreless draw at Bologna on Friday, the champions will drop to second if Napoli beat AC Milan on Monday.