Roma's Leonardo Spinazzola has revealed he chose to miss Italy's Nations League fixtures to conduct individual training this month, as he continues his recovery from a serious Achilles tendon injury.
Spinazzola enjoyed a breakthrough on the international stage during Italy's successful Euro 2020 campaign last year, impressing as an attacking left-back for Roberto Mancini's side.
However, he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during the Azzurri's quarter-final win over Belgium in July 2021, returning to feature in just three Serie A matches before the end of last season.
The 29-year-old has appeared in all seven of the Giallorossi's league games this campaign, but revealed his previous injury continues to have an impact after opting to skip Italy's Nations League matches against England and Hungary.
"Not to go to Coverciano was my request to Roberto Mancini, the coach understood and allowed me these 10 days to get back in shape and do specific work for the calf," he told the club's media channels.
"I think mine is one of the worst injuries for a player, especially given my characteristics. I still lack some support and speed."
Roma are four points adrift of early Serie A pace-setters Napoli and Atalanta, but the arrival of Paulo Dybala and influence of coach Jose Mourinho have seen them tipped as potential title challengers.
Spinazzola spoke highly of the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss, adding: "We are with him, whatever he says, we do. If he told us to go to war, we would do it.
"That's right, he has this gift. Then everything he says, for the most part, comes true.
"But he is very calm in training. I don't know how he was in the past, but he's really calm. Sometimes he just observes from above.
"He likes to observe how you move, how you move your body, your body language, he observes a lot of these things."
Roma were beaten by Atalanta in their last league outing, and will face a huge test of their Serie A credentials when they travel to another of Mourinho's former clubs Inter on October 1.