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Ranieri defends Totti substitution

Roma boss Claudio Ranieri insists he has no regrets about his decision to bring on captain Francesco Totti deep into stoppage time against Sampdoria last week.

Totti has found himself increasingly marginalised under Ranieri of late, and was an unused substitue against league leaders Milan in December.

His late introduction against Sampdoria was viewed as an insult by Roma fans and the player himself, who announced earlier this week that he is unhappy at the club.

But despite risking the wrath of Roma's supporters by continuing to snub their captain and all-time leading appearance maker, Ranieri was unrepentant about the substitution.

"Looking back, I'd do the same thing again tomorrow," Ranieri said. "It was never controversial for me, as in my view we have to battle right to the final whistle.

"I'll keep pushing to improve the result, even if there are only three minutes left. It was not a lack of respect towards Totti, but rather a show of how much I respect him, as I thought he could change the game with one free kick or shot. It's all the captain needs.

"Francesco is in good shape and I expect his goals soon, just as I expect Marco Borriello, Mirko Vucinic, Adriano and Jeremy Menez to score."

Ranieri refused to admit he is under pressure, instead insisting that his side are still capable of challenging for the Serie A title.

"If we change the trend and start picking up points away from home, then we are still in the Scudetto race," Ranieri said. "I could've gone in June and didn't. Roma is everything to me. I am determined and calm."

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