Outside of hiring a new manager and setting the world afire with their throwback third kits, the story of Roma's young season has been the litany of injuries they've sustained, particularly in midfield. Through the first two and a half months of the new season, Roma have been without the likes of Lorenzo Pellegrini, Cengiz Ünder, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Edin Dzeko, Nikola Kalinic, Bryan Cristante and Amadou Diawara. There may be more, I can't tell for sure; Roma have had a staggering amount of injuries this season.
Some injuries are sneakier than others—you see a guy limp off the field thinking it's a simple cramp only to find out he'll miss a month—but when you see a player in a crumpled heap clutching his knee while writhing in pain, the words catastrophic, tear and ACL immediately spring to mind.
Those were our worst fears when we saw Amadou Diawara grabbing his left leg after being injured against Cagliari on October 6th. Without a clear and deliberate collision precipitating the injury, Roma fans immediately went to the darkest timeline—a torn ACL, which often occurs in non-contact situations.
That gut reaction proved unfounded as Diawara was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, a less severe injury but one that would still require a somewhat lengthy stay on the sidelines. With recovery times ranging from three to six weeks, Roma's already depleted midfield was going to be stretched even thinner.
Without Diawara, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan and Bryan Cristante, Paulo Fonseca was forced to get creative, using defender Gianluca Mancini in the double pivot alongside Jordan Veretout. This short-term experiment has proven remarkably successful as Mancini has flashed some impressive passing skills in the middle of the park, but Roma didn't shell out some €15 million on Mancini to play him out of position; he was and is the long-term solution to Roma's center back issues.
So, it is with great pleasure that we pass along these happy images:
Diawara returned to training today, jumping in head first with the rest of his teammates. With two matches this week—away to ‘Gladbach in the Europa League and away to Parma in the league—Diawara's return comes at the perfect time.
While it remains to be seen just exactly how fit he is, Diawara's presence gives Fonseca further options with his still injured squad. Diawara can immediately jump back into the double pivot with Veretout, allowing Mancini to return to his normal position, or he could even spell Veretout—who has been putting in work the past few matches—and team up with Mancini in midfield.
No matter what Fonseca chooses, Roma are slowly getting back to 100%, and when you consider how well they've been playing without all these guys, that's a scary proposition for Roma's opponents.