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Dec 7, 2012

Juve coach Conte back on the bench

Juventus coach Antonio Conte will be back on the bench for the first time this season at Palermo when his suspension comes to an end on Sunday.

• Digby: Conte ready to roar again

Conte, 43, was handed a 10-month suspension in August - later reduced to four months on appeal - for his alleged role in the match-fixing scandal that swept the Italian game.

He was hit with the punishment by the Italian Football Federation after being accused of failing to report match-fixing in games against Novara and Albinoleffe during his time as coach of Siena in Serie B.

Assistant coach Angelo Alessio, who was handed a three-month ban, said: "It was difficult to do without Antonio, but the team knows what it has to do, so they helped the situation immensely.

"I know what Antonio has been through over the last few months."

Palermo midfielder Fabio Brienza praised Conte - even though he said his return to the bench would make life more difficult in Sunday's match.

He told Sky Italia: "I am happy for his return to the bench. He is an honest and sincere person.

"It will be a tricky game with a lot of danger, but we will have to try our best to get a positive result against the league leaders."

Palermo boss Gian Piero Gasperini echoed those words, telling La Repubblica: "In my opinion, Conte has always been a fine example for anyone to follow. I have a great relationship with him, and he's been missed.

"I certainly won't wish him good luck against us, though, but from personal experience I can say that a coach's direct involvement is very important to his players.''

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