Leonardo Bonucci will be glad to see Cristiano Ronaldo back on the pitch for Portugal and is not concerned by the forward’s recent tough stretch at Juventus.
Juve superstar Ronaldo has been substituted in his past two club matches, reportedly leaving the stadium before full-time last time out against AC Milan.
Coach Maurizio Sarri attributed the former Real Madrid forward’s early withdrawal down to a bruised knee, yet he is in line to start for Portugal against Lithuania in Euro 2020 qualifying on Thursday.
Club colleague Bonucci is keen not to dwell on the events of recent weeks, though, happy to instead back Ronaldo to return to Turin determined to lead the Bianconeri going forward.
“I like to look forward, not back,” Italy international Bonucci told a news conference. “There will be time to talk but now we are with the national teams.
“He will play with Portugal – that means he is physically better and mentally great. And I am here to represent Italy. In Turin, we will talk.
“There are still many games in which we will need the best Ronaldo. I am convinced that, for him, too, the goal is to be better than the past to achieve team and personal goals.”
Ronaldo has scored six goals in 14 matches in all competitions for Juve this season.
Sarri’s men are one point clear of nearest rivals Inter at the top of Serie A, while they have secured their place in the Champions League knockout stages with two group matches to spare.
Speaking after Ronaldo’s substitution midweek against AC Milan, Sarri praised Ronaldo’s dedication and backed him to bounce back once he shakes off a lingering injury.
“We must thank Ronaldo, because he made a sacrifice to be there at all tonight in a difficult situation,” Sarri told Sky Sport Italia post-match.
“He did everything possible to play, but I saw he was not well and thought it best to take him off. It’s only natural a player is going to be irritated to leave the pitch, especially when he worked so hard to be there.
“Over the last month, he has had this little knee problem, he had a knock in training and it hurt the collateral ligament. When he trains at high intensity or plays, it unbalances him, so he ends up overcompensating and it damages the calf and thigh muscles.
“It is affecting his performances and he is not at his best at the moment. All players who are trying to give their best will have at least five minutes of being annoyed when they are substituted, but a coach would, in general, be much more worried if he didn’t seem upset.”