Milan (AFP) – England’s Joe Hart is expected to make his Torino debut at Atalanta on Sunday as city rivals Juventus warm up for their Champions League opener against Sevilla by hosting Sassuolo.
Hart, deemed surplus to requirements by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, completed his move to unfashionable Torino on a season-long loan deal last week.
Amid reports Torino could be given the chance to snap the 28-year-old ‘keeper up on a permanent basis, Hart was put through his paces during a maiden training session with the “Granata” on Thursday.
Yet hopes of a first Serie A win for the England shot-stopper have been dealt a signficant blow.
After hitting a hat-trick in a 5-1 win over Bologna, striker Andrea Belotti is sidelined for three weeks after suffering a thigh injury with Italy on what was his maiden call-up.
And Torino suffered another blow when Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez returned from a 2-2 World Cup qualifying draw against Argentina with a right thigh injury.
Juventus welcome Sassuolo days before they host Sevilla and for Miralem Pjanic it could be the first step towards filling the shoes of former Juve and Italy great Andrea Pirlo.
Juventus have been looking for a suitable replacement for Pirlo since the veteran’s move to New York City FC last year, and Pjanic is ready to make his debut playing in front of Juve’s three-man defence following his move from Roma in the close season.
“I hope I will start playing soon,” Pjanic told Mediaset Premium.
“I had some physical problems during our first two games, but now I’m fine.
“We face Sassuolo, then we host Sevilla in the Champions League, ahead of an intense period of games. We’ll be playing every three days, but I’m ready.”
– Giaccherini ‘a giant’ –
Napoli are taking their return to the group stages of the Champions League so seriously the club’s official radio station, Kiss Kiss, announced a media blackout for the players following Saturday’s visit to Palermo.
Yet Maurizio Sarri’s men should have no complaints.
Following the international break, their casualty room is virtually empty and Italy international winger Emanuele Giaccherini is set to make his debut having missed their opening two games due to injury.
Giaccherini, signed in the close season, is one of the smallest players in Italy’s top flight.
But the former Sunderland midfielder was one of Italy’s top players at Euro 2016, where he opened the scoring in a 2-0 opening win over Belgium, and his agent believes Napoli have hit the jackpot.
“There’s been little said about him in the media these last few weeks but once he steps onto the pitch, he becomes a giant,” Fulvio Valcareggi told Radio Kiss Kiss.
The hopes of Palermo fans willing for an upset at their Renzo Barbera stadium will be tempered by coach Davide Ballardini’s resignation after just two games into the season — a 1-0 loss to Sassuolo and a creditable 1-1 draw at Inter Milan.
He was replaced by Foggia coach Roberto De Zerbi.
Inter Milan face a potentially tricky trip to Pescara on Sunday, where Frank De Boer’s visitors will be under huge pressure to clinch a first win of the campaign.
Inter were among the league’s biggest spenders in the close season and star Croatian forward Ivan Perisic admits it’s time to repay the club and the fans.
“It’s been a very disappointing start to the season, one we didn’t expect,” Perisic told Sky Sport Italia.
“We have some new players and a new coach, who hasn’t had a lot of time to prepare for the season.
“We have to get the win against Pescara, that’s all that matters.”
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Juventus v Sassuolo (1600), Palermo v Napoli (1845)
Bologna v Cagliari (1030), Atalanta v Torino, Chievo v Lazio, Genoa v Fiorentina, AC Milan v Udinese, Roma v Sampdoria (all 1300), Pescara v Inter (1845)
Empoli v Crotone (1845)
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