Simone Pepe ready for Juventus return
Simone Pepe believes he is as good as a new signing for Juventus after scoring his second goal in as many preseason games following a long injury battle.
Pepe, 30, has missed the best part of the last two seasons for the Serie A champions, playing only 50 minutes spread over four appearances after a string of problems have kept him out of action.
But the Bianconeri striker says he is now nearing full fitness and is demonstrating it with his goals: after netting against the Indonesia All Stars, he scored against the Australian A-League All Stars in a 3-2 win on Sunday.
"I'm almost back to 100 per cent," the former Italy international told reporters in Sydney. "I always had faith in myself and I knew I would make it. And now Juve have a new player -- I'm like a new signing on the transfer market."
In addition to scoring his second goal in as many games, Pepe set up Juve's second for Paul Pogba and showed tactical intelligence, making himself a versatile option for new coach Massimiliano Allegri this season.
"I'm always available, whether Allegri wants to play a 3-5-2 or a three-man attack," he continued. "In my head, I know I will get back to where I was before so there are no problems. In those final five minutes, I have got over these two difficult years."
Fernando Llorente was also on target in the 3-2 win, scoring for the third game in a row as the Italian champions step up preparations for their opening game of the season at Chievo Verona on Aug. 30.
Also in form is Giuseppe Rossi, who has put his exclusion from the Italian World Cup squad behind him with another goal as Fiorentina beat Malaga 2-0.
There was disappointment for two Serie A clubs battling Bundesliga opponents, however, with Inter Milan falling to a 3-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt and Lazio losing 3-1 at Hannover.
Elsewhere, Serie A runners-up Roma put five past Austrian amateur side Eltendorf without reply, a second-string Parma team beat Voghera 7-1, while Palermo were beaten 1-0 by Al Ahli.