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Cristiano Ronaldo will be evaluated game by game, says Sarri

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Cristiano Ronaldo is on sensational form and Maurizio Sarri would not divulge if he is planning to give the 35-year-old a rest.

Maurizio Sarri was giving little away when asked if he was planning to rest Cristiano Ronaldo before the club’s Champions League tie against Lyon later this month.

Ronaldo has been in spectacular form in 2020 and has scored 11 goals in his last seven matches across all competitions, while he is also on a Juve record run after netting in 10 consecutive Serie A games.

The Portugal international’s fitness was brought up by reporters ahead of Thursday’s Coppa Italia semi-final first leg away to Milan, but Sarri insisted the forward was feeling strong a fortnight before their continental tie against Lyon begins.

Highlights – Hellas Verona vs Juventus

“We will see,” Sarri said about the prospect of resting Ronaldo.

“I have spoken with him and he told me he is feeling well right now. We will evaluate him on a game by game basis.”

Sarri also provided an update on Giorgio Chiellini, who has not played since August having had surgery in September on a ruptured cruciate ligament.

The Juve boss said last week that the defender was closing in on a return and was positive again after Chiellini had taken part in a shortened friendly match involving Juventus’ youth players and local team Chisola.

“Chiellini’s road to recovery looks good,” said Sarri. “He needs to do a few more tests like he did this morning.”

Opponents Milan come into the game on the back of a morale-denting 4-2 derby loss to Inter, but Sarri is taking nothing for granted at San Siro.

“Milan have improved a lot in this period,” said the former Chelsea boss, whose side are hoping to bounce back from a surprise 2-1 away Serie A loss to Hellas Verona.

“They come into the game off the back of the derby in which they played well. It will be a difficult game.

“My team is training well, with intensity and application. The standard is very high.”

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Kane back in Spurs training ahead of schedule, Mourinho confirms

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Harry Kane is recovering from injury quicker than expected and Jose Mourinho is optimistic he could still play a prominent role this season.

Jose Mourinho has confirmed Harry Kane’s recovery from surgery on a hamstring injury is going better than expected after the striker made his return to Tottenham training.

Kane sustained the injury on New Year’s Day during a defeat to Southampton, and the issue required him to have an operation.

It was initially thought Kane would be out until April, before Mourinho suggested May 9 was a more realistic date for his return, when Spurs are scheduled to face Leicester City on the season’s penultimate matchday.

But Kane began “on-field rehabilitation” on Friday, and Mourinho is now optimistic about potentially having the England captain back in contention a little earlier – though he stopped short of setting another date as a target.

“I would say a little bit ahead [of schedule],” Mourinho said of Kane’s return to training.

“It gives me a hope of, instead of [only being able to play] one or two matches [at the end of the season], [he may play] three, four or five.

“I don’t know – I’m just speculating a little bit – but the feelings are good. He’s doing what he can do at this stage but always with a good feeling.

“Sometimes [players] follow protocol and [suffer] some setbacks because of not the best feeling on this action or that movement, but everything is going well. He’s having very good feelings. So, I’m positive.

“When he was injured, I told you I will forget him, then I told you [he could play] one or two games – Crystal Palace or Leicester.

“At the moment, I have better hopes than that, so hopefully that feeling is right and he can help us in the last part of the season.

“Of course, in the club, people know him much better than I do. Every time he has a problem, he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t accept protocols, a date, a fixture. He always tries to go ahead.

“He’s the kind of guy that we have a very good control and communication. Sometimes the players break protocol and come back earlier than expected. It happened with Hugo [Lloris], who played a couple of weeks before we could expect.

“Let’s see with Harry. He’s obviously a great professional and a fighter and he wants to be back as soon as possible. What’s ‘as soon as possible’? I don’t know.”

Mourinho was similarly optimistic about the return of Son Heung-min, who broke his arm against Aston Villa and also required surgery, leading the Spurs boss to effectively rule him out for the rest of the season.

Now Tottenham hope he could also be in contention for the latter stages of 2019-20, but first the club must follow the government’s coronavirus safety protocols, with Son soon expected to return from a trip to South Korea.

“That’s a hope but we’re far from it,” Mourinho said of Son potentially returning early. “He’s coming back soon [to the UK] and we have to follow safety protocols, then we’ll look at all the possibilities.

“I cannot imagine when, but there’s a good chance that before the end of the season we have Harry and Son playing together.”

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Thomas Tuchel: Now is the time for PSG to be confident

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Paris Saint-Germain must overturn a 2-1 Champions League deficit against Borussia Dortmund, but Thomas Tuchel remains positive.

Thomas Tuchel sees no reason to make drastic changes at Paris Saint-Germain following their 2-1 Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund.

A double from Erling Haaland saw Dortmund claim the advantage in the first leg of the last-16 tie last week, though Neymar did grab an away goal.

PSG have Ligue 1 games with Dijon and Strasbourg sandwiched by a Coupe de France semi-final against Lyon before the return leg at the Parc des Princes.

Tuchel refused to overreact to what was PSG’s first defeat in 24 matches, which was followed by a thrilling 4-3 win over Bordeaux, indicating that finding rhythm will be the most important thing for his side ahead of facing his former club again.

“We lost a match 2-1. It can happen that a team loses in Dortmund. It is a stronger team than at the start of the season,” Tuchel told a media conference ahead of the visit of Dijon on Saturday.

“Maybe we lacked rhythm, from several important players. Now is not the time to change. They absolutely want to move on from Dortmund.

“For many players, important players, it is the time to be confident. We lost one game out of 20, or even more than that, so two draws, one loss. It is a good time to be confident.

“We don’t want to change too many things, to leave some players to their own responsibilities, because they want to change the result of the game against Dortmund and they want to win tomorrow, then in Lyon and we will do that step by step.

“When we arrive at Dortmund, then we will prepare for that game.”

Neymar and Marco Verratti will not face Dijon because of suspension, while Thiago Silva, Ander Herrera, Colin Dagba and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting are all sidelined.

The absence of Neymar could lead to another opportunity for Edinson Cavani, who scored his 200th goal for PSG in the victory against Bordeaux.

Tuchel was asked about his selection in the team ahead of Mauro Icardi, who has scored 19 goals since joining on loan from Inter, but gave the question short shrift.

“Well it is always the same question, before it was why he is playing while Edinson Cavani is on the bench? And now it is the other way around,” he replied.

“We trust every player, including Edinson Cavani, and now, I think it is the time for him. He gave everything, he scored a goal, did an assist.

“He had a lot of moments, and with strikers, that is how it is. It is like that with everybody, but especially with strikers.”

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Zidane issues update on Eden Hazard’s injury ahead of Manchester City clash

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With only a few hours left before Real Madrid take on Manchester City in the first leg of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League round-of-16, Zinedine Zidane has issued a worrying update on Eden Hazard’s injury.

Speaking in the pre-match press conference ahead of the Manchester City game, Zidane said that he is unsure if Hazard will play for Real Madrid again this season.

The former Chelsea star is set for a second injury lay-off this season, after fracturing his ankle during Real Madrid’s defeat to Levante in the La Liga last weekend.

The Levante game was only his second appearance for Los Blancos since November 2019, after he recovered from another injury to the same ankle.

Hazard’s injury and his subsequent lay-off is definitely a big blow for Zidane and co, as they gear up for a crucial week in both the UCL and the La Liga.

“He [Hazard] loves playing football and while I can’t tell you what is in his eyes, I can see he is not happy,” the Real Madrid boss said.

“It’s important he stays positive but, of course, it’s difficult. It’s a bad moment, it won’t be easy and he will feel like that for a while. I do not know if he will have to go through an operation. It is not my area and I don’t know if his season is over, but I hope not,” he went on.

“I am not the right person to say what should have been done or shouldn’t have.”

“We are not happy about his injury, it comes at a bad moment. He wanted to play and help us but now he is out again, which is sad of course,” the Frenchman added further, before concluding:

“I hope when he’s back again he is completely fit. That’s what everyone wants and that’s it.”

Quotes via Mirror.

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