Jose Mourinho bemoaned Paulo Dybala’s absence after Roma slipped to a 1-0 derby defeat against Lazio on Sunday.
The Portuguese however revealed his hope that the Argentina international would return before the Qatar World Cup which will kick off on November 20.
Felipe Anderson capitalised on an error from Roger Ibanez as Maurizio Sarri’s team clinched a crucial win over their arch rivals, moving to third in the Serie A table.
While Lazio were without influential duo Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile at the Stadio Olimpico, Roma only managed two shots on target.
They toiled in the absence of Dybala —- their top goalscorer with five league goals this season.
“We talked about Milinkovic-Savic and Immobile, we didn’t talk about Dybala,” Mourinho said at a post-match news conference.
“I think he is more important, because he’s the one that assists us with goals. When certain players are missing, we go into difficulty.”
Dybala has been absent since October 9 after sustaining a hamstring injury.
But Mourinho hopes he will return against Torino next Sunday, in what would also be a boost for Argentina ahead of their trip to Qatar.
“Obviously he wants to go to the World Cup, it is difficult to say no to that,” Mourinho said.
“If there is a good evolution of his injury, we hope to have him back on Sunday against Torino.”
Roma have suffered narrow defeats to several of Serie A’s leading lights recently, but Mourinho believes they have not always got what they deserved.
Asked about the Giallorossi’s poor record against top opponents, Mourinho added: “Roma lost those games, in my opinion, undeservedly.
“Atalanta made one shot on goal and won 1-0, Napoli had difficulties like never before and won with a great goal from [Victor] Osimhen, and Lazio won with a half-goal.
“I think the game they played was the consequence of being 1-0 up, in a low block, compact.
“In our cultures, it is said that this was a cynical, intelligent game. In England, people would go home after 20 minutes.
“The playing time was definitely very low, the intensity and continuity of the game was very low. We dominated, but there was a lack of creativity.”