Virus-free Ronaldo won't start for Juve against Spezia, Pirlo confirms


Cristiano Ronaldo will be included in Juventus' squad for the Serie A match against Spezia on Sunday, but is unlikely to start, coach Andrea Pirlo says.

The attacker has not played for the Italian champions since they drew 2-2 with Roma in late September, having tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty with Portugal.

Juventus confirmed on Friday that the 35-year-old returned a negative test and has been cleared to feature in the clash with the Ligurian side, but Pirlo does not expect him to play the full 90 minutes.

"He arrived negative on the second swab and this morning he trained individually," Pirlo told reporters. 

"He will be with the team. I don't believe he will play from the beginning. The important thing is having him. He trained at home, it's very important that we take him with us."

Argentine attacker Paulo Dybala has made only three appearances for the Bianconeri this season, having started last week's draw at home to Hellas Verona in the Italian top-flight and the 2-0 loss against Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old is currently in talks over a new contract with the club and Pirlo has denied the negotiations are the reason for his absence in the first four weeks of the campaign. 

"It's only a physical question," Pirlo said. "I always said he wasn’t at 100 per cent. The first time you come back you do well, the second game is more exhausting. He just needs time to train and recover his full fitness.

"He has to find his rhythm, to not think about the voices around his renewal but only to do well."

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Spezia have five points from as many games in Serie A this term, while Juventus have nine points and are unbeaten in the league, and Pirlo says his side cannot afford to underestimate Sunday's opponents. 

"We are taking on a newly promoted squad that is playing well," he added. 

"I know [Spezia coach] Vincenzo Italiano, we did the coaching course together. I know the type of squad he puts out. We must play a great match and bring points home."