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AS Roma captain Francesco Totti will once again be missing as the Italian side visit Villarreal CF in the first leg of the fourth round of the UEFA Cup on Thursday night.
The Italian international – who also sat out the Serie A side's first-leg defeat by Gaziantepspor in the previous round before returning to help his side reach the last 16 – has been left out of Fabio Capello's squad after collecting a number of niggling injuries in the 4-1 success against FC Internazionale at the weekend.
Lengthy injury list
Totti therefore joins Romanian central defender Cristian Chivu – still out with an injury to his left thigh – on the sidelines, with Olivier Dacourt, Daniele De Rossi, Vincent Candela and Marco Delvecchio all also unavailable.
However, there was some relief for Capello with the news that striker Vincenzo Montella, who has not played since 23 November, has recovered from his knee injury and could make his long-awaited return against Villarreal. "I was hoping to recover earlier but I'm finally ready," said the striker. "It's a pity to have missed so many games, especially because Roma are playing great football.
I really hope to play in Spain."
Roma are the form side in Serie A at the moment, having scored 14 goals and conceded just two in their last three league games. A 6-0 success against AC Siena was followed by consecutive 4-1 victories, against Parma AC and Inter, either side of the UEFA Cup success against Gaziantepspor.
Villarreal are under no illusions of the size of the task which awaits them, as Sonny Anderson said: "Facing a rival like Roma in a competition such as this is always going to be complicated. After seeing the level they are at, together with the fact that we must play the second leg in Rome, we can safely assume that they will be the favourites but that does not mean that we can't eliminate them."
Rodolfo Arruabarrena is out for the UEFA Intertoto Cup winners, a stretched hamstring sidelining the Argentinian right-back. However, Brazilian defender Juliano Belletti, who under normal circumstances would be expected to deputise, is suffering from a thigh strain and is a serious doubt. Club doctors will monitor his response to treatment ahead of the game, with the 22-year-old Pedro Marti Castello in line to step in.
Anderson believes the first match will be crucial. "It's important for us to get a victory at home so that we have something to play for when we travel to Rome," said the 33-year-old striker. "Another factor will be keeping a clean sheet here in Spain."
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