Italy striker Antonio Cassano will return to the first-team squad for Thursday’s UEFA Cup match against Racing Strasbourg.

Cassano has not played for Roma since a bitter public row with the club’s general manager Rosella Sensi, daughter of club owner Franco Sensi. The row centred on a contract dispute between the club and the player and although it has not resolved, coach Luciano Spalletti has detected an improvement in Cassano’s attitude in recent weeks.

“He will be in the squad. He is putting the effort in and has shown the right attitude to team spirit. If he continues like this it will make things easy for us,” said the Roma coach.

“I’ve seen a lot of desire from him in training recently. He has refound that touch of quality that at a certain period he had lost,” added Spalletti.

The Roma coach admitted he had spoken with an official from the Italian Football Federation about Cassano but denied that had influenced his decision.

“We talked about my treatment of Cassano and I explained my thinking. I said that I want to weigh things up calmly without having anything imposed on me by anyone.

“Regarding Cassano it has always been me who makes the decisions and it will be who decides in the future as well,” added the Roma coach.

“As far as the line-up is concerned I call up and play whoever I want to,” said Spalletti.

Italy coach Marcello Lippi has often expressed his admiration for Cassano but says the forward has to be playing regular football if he is to be considered for selection for Italy.

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