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Fans hold key to Palermo progress

Mariano Gonzalez believes US Città di Palermo's partisan home support can help the Italian side take the initiative in their UEFA Cup tie against FC Schalke 04.

Mariano Gonzalez believes US Città di Palermo's partisan home support can help the Italian side take the initiative in their UEFA Cup last-16 tie against FC Schalke 04.

European ambition
Having seen their unbeaten start to life under Giuseppe Papadopulo ended by AC Milan two weekends ago, Palermo slumped to another defeat at struggling US Lecce on Sunday. However, midfielder Gonzalez is confident those losses will simply spur the team on: "We want to go as far as we can in the UEFA Cup, so I really hope our fans get behind us. Schalke are a very strong side, but Kevin Kuranyi is out and that's good news."

'Dangerous forwards'
There is less positive news from the Palermo camp, though, with Eugenio Corini out with a thigh injury and Massimo Mutarelli doubtful after limping off at the weekend. Paul Codrea and Giovanni Tedesco could come into the side, while Franco Brienza is expected to replace the ineligible David Di Michele in attack. Gonzalez, however, is more concerned with the strength of the Palermo defence, "because Schalke have other dangerous attacking players" aside from Kuranyi.

Midfield threat
Hannover 96 discovered that to their cost on Saturday, as they shut out Schalke's strikers only for midfielders Christian Poulsen and Zlatan Bajramović to register as the visitors won 2-1. An injury to Lincoln will further test their resolve after the Brazilian playmaker damaged a knee ligament in training and stayed behind in Germany. "Ebbe Sand will probably play instead," said Schalke coach Mirko Slomka.

Returnees
Lincoln joins Turkish international Hamit Altıntop on the sidelines, although midfielder Mimoun Azaouagh and defender Darío Rodríguez could start after returning from respective knee and thigh problems at Hannover.