Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri has welcomed back Martin Caceres to the squad as his side enter a crucial run of fixtures.
The Serie A champions face Sassuolo on Wednesday, just three days before the Turin derby, and must travel to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League next week.
Caceres was suspended by the club after reportedly crashing his car at the end of last month, but Allegri – who lost both Kwadwo Asamoah and Roberto Pereyra to injuries over the weekend – says the Uruguay defender is back in contention for the pivotal run of games.
“The upcoming four games will determine our destiny in the Champions League and our chances of making up ground in Serie A,” said Allegri.
“I knew the risk I ran with Pereyra and unfortunately it happened. He hasn’t trained much and unfortunately pulled up on Sunday.
“Asamoah played well but went eight months without playing. He will be back after the international break.
“Thankfully I have the remainder of the squad at my disposal. We play once every three days but the players have recovered, including Caceres, who will be back.”
Allegri’s side beat Atalanta 2-0 on Sunday in just their third Serie A win of the season, but while Allegri acknowledged his side are improving, he maintains they are short of the standard required to catch table-toppers Roma.
“Our performances have come on thanks to the improvement of the squad’s physical condition. The [international] break served us well,” he said.
“The others are the favourites. Roma, Lazio, Napoli. We have to have the motivation ourselves. We need to change the position and win.
“I’m happy with the squad I have available. We’ve had many injuries this year, so we started a little late. But we’re on the right track.
“Sassuolo play good football, they’ve got plenty of pace and are an organised outfit. We need to take the game to them.
“We’re improving in terms of our approach. The team knows when to put its foot on the gas and when to defend.”
Allegri was forced to defend his use of big-money signing Paulo Dybala last week after criticism from Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini, and he has again given his backing to the Argentina international.
“I don’t choose players based on how much they cost. I choose whoever is playing better,” he added.
“Dybala, I say again, has good quality. He’ll become a great player but he needs time. A few weeks ago I said the same about [Juan] Cuadrado, but he cannot play every game until May.”