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Huntelaar taken off Schalke penalty duty

Schalke
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Zeman hopes De Rossi improves

Roma coach Zdenek Zeman has played down reports of a breakdown in the relationship between himself and Daniele De Rossi - but also said the club's star midfielder had underperformed this season.

De Rossi has become disillusioned at Roma this season with the club again failing to mount a serious title challenge, sitting in sixth and nine points behind defending champions Juventus. He publically criticised the Giallorossi after a 4-1 defeat at Juve at the end of September.

The Italy international only signed a new contract with the club in February as Manchester City chased his signature, but he has struggled for form this season leading to talk of a fall-out between player and manager.

He has recently completed a three-match ban for a dismissal against Lazio and is available for selection again this weekend against Fiorentina.

Zeman told TG1: "De Rossi is not a problem or a bum note for me, but he hasn't performed the way he should have. He has not integrated himself into the squad. He is an important player for me and I hope he can perform the way he did in past seasons.

"I never had problems with him. I was disappointed with his words after the defeat to Juventus, but that is in the past now. Will he play against Fiorentina this weekend? He is training with real effort and you never know during the week who will be in better or worse shape. I hope he will be in better shape.

"I don't know why his start to the season has not been great, you could have many theories. Perhaps he was disturbed by the rumours at the start of the season, those reports that he was or wasn't right for Roma, that Manchester City wanted him... that can influence a player."

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