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Italian job on the line

Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date online: 06 December 2013

MATTEO Lanzoni’s chances of swapping hotel life for something more homely could rest on Athletic’s fortunes over the next four days.

Still feeling his way back into the team after recovering from injury, the former Sampdoria defender (25) is on a short-term contract until the end of December.

If all goes to plan, Lanzoni should be offered an extension by manager Lee Johnson. But knock-out exits against Mansfield and Chesterfield or his old fitness issues rearing up again could result in a long-term deal being scuppered.

“We will have to see how the finances are,” said Johnson, who handed Lanzoni a league debut against Tranmere in August. “He has done very well, Matteo, and he is an excellent professional.

“I like him a lot and the lads do, too. We will get through to January and have a sit down with him. But he is one I would like to keep.

“He has had a couple of injuries we are a bit worried about and we want to check his muscle tissue before extending his deal.”

Lanzoni takes his place in the side as Mansfield arrive at Boundary Park tomorrow, in the midst of an awful run which puts them bottom of the form table in Sky Bet League Two.

The trick, Johnson says, is to guard against complacency and to be “relentless” in the quest to improve game by game.

“We keep going and try to do the right things, day-in, day-out,” said Johnson. “The frightening thing about football is that you never know what is going to happen. I have seen Mansfield play and they are not on a great run. But they have threats. They are a big, strong side, are quite direct and don’t muck about getting the ball forward.

“I don’t believe our lads will be complacent and don’t think they can be. There isn’t a lot between the squads in terms of history and reputation.”

 

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