Roma coach Luciano Spalletti claims he cares about Francesco Totti too much to pick the veteran forward purely on sentiment.
The 39-year-old club icon has not started a match since Spalletti returned to Roma for a second spell in charge in January.
Totti was an unused substitute for a third consecutive Serie A match in last weekend’s resounding 4-1 derby win over Lazio and Spalletti gave no suggestion his captain’s role was about to change ahead of Monday’s match with Bologna.
“Francesco, I treat him like a professional player and I am one of the few that does, because I choose him if he has more chance of doing well than another,” he told a pre-match news conference.
“He is still full of confidence and wants to help Roma achieve their objectives. Some of the media want me to pick him regardless of form, which doesn’t seem fair to the others.
“In one way or another he will lead us all the same because he has this charisma that is dictated to the team, from its history, from what he has been, from his quality.
“He can do what he wants in the future and have any role he wants. Either way will go in the same direction, which is to get results for Roma.”
Another attacker out of Spalletti’s starting XI is Edin Dzeko, although the Bosnia-Herzegovina international came off the bench to press his claims with a goal against Lazio.
“A coach looks at the collective,” Spalletti explained. “Roma are doing well with Dzeko and without Dzeko.
“A dip in form is inevitable over the course of the season. Dzeko is training in splendid fashion and we have to consider the team results as the main objective.
“We all work for success for Roma.”