Napoli Lose Starting Defender to Ankle Injury Ahead of Juventus Game

Napoli will be undermanned for the upcoming clashes with Atalanta in Coppa Italia and Juventus in League play as Kostas Manolas is slated to miss time after hurting his right ankle in Saturday’s loss to Genoa. The club announced that the Greek defender suffered a second grade sprain with some damage to the anterior talofibular ligament and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

The Partenopei are also currently without Kalidou Koulibaly and Faouzi Ghoulam, who tested positive for COVID late last week and are going through the protocol. As a result of the absences, back-ups Nikola Maksimovic and Amir Rrahmani will form the starting pair of center-backs for the time being, although also fullbacks Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Elseid Hysaj adapted to that position in the past.

In related news, coach Gennaro Gattuso remains on the hot seat, especially following the poor result versus the Grifone and the next two games will be key to determine his future. However, president Aurelio De Laurentiis would rather not sack the manager mid-season and wait until the end of the campaign to appoint an up-and-comer such as Roberto De Zerbi, Ivan Juric or Roberto De Zerbi. Therefore an immediate change is considered unlikely unless the situation really snowballs, Gazzetta dello Sport reports.

The outlet adds that Rafa Benitez and Walter Mazzarri, who would return at Napoli after eight years, are candidates to take over in case the owner decides to pull the trigger on the firing in the next couple of weeks.