11.03.2015 19:01 - in: Serie A S

    Pepe: “Back in business”

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    The winger conveys his delight after putting his injury nightmare firmly behind him: “I feel good and I’m ready, as all the others are, to make my contribution to the cause when called upon”

    Simone Pepe says he is eager to build on his game time accrued so far this season and continue to make a positive contribution when given the nod by coach Massimiliano Allegri.

    The winger, who officially put his two and a half year injury nightmare behind him when he returned to the starting line-up for the Bianconeri’s Coppa Italia clash with Hellas Verona in mid January, feels he is edging closer to peak fitness after working hard to force his way back into the first-team fold.

    Speaking to Sky Sport, he began: “I’ve been training for eight months and feel good. My legs are getting back to what they were before and I’m ready, as all the others are, to make my contribution.

    “Everyone would like to be in the starting line-up, that’s perfectly natural, but it’s important the manager knows he can also count on those on the bench, as we saw in the previous game.”  

    After bagging his first assist of the season courtesy of a trademark cross for Fernando Llorente in last week’s Coppa Italia reverse to Fiorentina, Pepe was once again the provider for Paul Pogba’s winner on Monday night - albeit a little fortuitously.

    Explaining how the move panned out, he said: “I was running and saw Tevez on the other side of the park. I wanted to tee him up but Paul arrived from deep. When he gathered the ball, I thought it was too difficult to control and would have run ahead of him. Instead he did brilliantly and scored a great goal.”

    Having extended their lead at the top of Serie A to 11 points with a hard-fought triumph over Sassuolo, Juventus will be aiming to keep marching on when they run out against Palermo on Saturday afternoon.

    Pepe, though, was quick to warn of the risks involved when coming up against a side boasting an unbeaten home record stretching back as far as late September.

    “We need to keep our focus because Palermo have gone a long time without losing a home game and we must try to stretch our advantage over Roma.”

    Looking further ahead, the 31-year-old previewed next Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 decider in Dortmund, where he believes the pendulum could swing in either direction.

    “It’s a completely unpredictable encounter because Borussia, like us, play an open game and have excellent players, just as we do. It’s perhaps the toughest last 16 encounter to call.”

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