With the season nearly at its halfway point, Roma should be focusing on gaining ground on the top four. After suffering a dip in form recently, the Giallorossi rebounded nicely with a 2-0 win over Spezia on Monday night, halting a two-match losing streak in the process. It wasn't the most convincing victory we've seen from José Mourinho's side, but it prevented what likely would have been a full-on meltdown in the Roman press.
However, despite that victory, Roma didn't emerge completely unscathed, as the club had to sweat the fitness levels of Chris Smalling and Roger Ibañez, both of whom dealt with minor strains/sprains after Monday's match. With a crucial fixture against Atalanta looming on Saturday, Roma faced the proposition of taming the vaunted Atalanta attack without Smalling and Ibañez, in addition to long-term absentees Lorenzo Pellegrini, Stephan El Shaarawy, and Carles Pérez.
According to multiple sources in the Italian process, most notably the Corriere dello Sport, Roma's worries have lessened with the news that Smalling, Ibañez, and Zaniolo each participated in group training this morning in Trigoria and should be relatively fit and ready for Roma's trip to Bergamo this weekend.
While he's on a drastically different timeline, Roma left-back Leonardo Spinazzola continues to make incremental progress in his return from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered while playing for Italy at Euro 2020 this past June. Spinazzola, ever the optimist, predicted a November return, and while that was probably a tad unrealistic, the 28-year-old has officially entered the last phase of his rehabilitation.
For the past six weeks, Spinazzola has been the “re-athleticization” component of his rehab, focusing on individual gym training and light field work. While that’s likely an awkwardly translated medical term, in essence, we can assume that Spinazzola has been working on his functional fitness; restoring his muscle memory, flexibility, quick-twitch movements, etc.
The Corriere dello Sport reports that, with this stage of his rehab complete, Spinazzola will now meet with Professor Lesse Lempainen, the physician who performed his surgery. If given the okay by Lempainen, Spinazzola will gradually rejoin his teammates in full training, with an eye on an early-February return to the pitch.
So, for once, it appears like it's good news all around on Roma’s injury front. While Spinazzola remains two months away, having Zaniolo, Smalling, and Ibañez active for Saturday's match gives the Giallorossi a puncher's chance to score an upset over third-place Atalanta.