Bruised Roma look to get their Scudetto challenge back on track following defeat against Juventus, but host Chievo with serious injury problems.

As the winter break approaches, Luciano Spalletti must lift the morale of his dejected squad. The Giallorossi are hurt and a title challenge, so full of vigour, has been temporarily halted.

The 1-0 loss against their main rivals dented their ambition, but also provided an insight in to what it takes to consistently top the table. At their best, Roma are scintillating and have a style admired by all domestically. However, Spalletti’s men failed to impose themselves at the Juventus Stadium and will have learned a valuable lesson in perfecting a Champions-elect performance.

Consequently, the gap has increased between first and second and reduced beneath Roma. Fellow European contenders Napoli are a point adrift of the Lupi after their worthy victory against Torino, further increasing the need to see out the calendar year with a win.

The hosts will be without Kostas Manolas, who picked up a thigh injury in the closing stages against Juventus, Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan and Alessandro Florenzi. Essentially the entire midfield is missing, so Leandro Paredes needs to rush his comeback from a knee injury and Mario Rui could make his Roma debut after tearing his ACL in pre-season training.

Mohamed Salah can also expect to be included from the start. The Egyptian returned as a second half substitute against Juventus, having spent a fortnight on the sidelines with an ankle injury. Salah’s genuine width has been missed and his pace, end product and goal output make him an invaluable asset to the side. This will be Salah’s last involvement for Roma in potentially five weeks, as the winger prepares to represent his country at the African Cup of Nations.

Gerson is expected to make way after an ineffectual showing against the league leaders. Meanwhile, club captain Francesco Totti is still struggling with illness and is in doubt to feature in the squad.

Historically, Roma have fared extremely well in this fixture, but they welcome a resurgent Chievo side who have won three of their last five matches. The Flying Donkeys beat Sampdoria 2-1 last weekend and are not to be underestimated.

The Gialloblu hope to be unchanged, but must assess Alessandro Gamberini, who was withdrawn at the break against Sampdoria with a knock. Nicolas Spolli will step in at the heart of the defence if the first-choice Italian isn’t passed fit. Massimo Gobbi will miss the clash, as he continues to recover from a fractured rib he sustained in training.

Rolando Maran’s squad are, as projected, sitting comfortably in mid-table and will be content with their first half of the season showing. The Coach can expect the usual endeavour from his side and will be reasonably confident about taking a share of the spoils, at the very least, such is the confidence in his team.

Keep an eye on: Edin Dzeko (Roma) – The Bosnian centre-forward is still joint Capocannoniere with Mauro Icardi and Andrea Belotti on 12 goals, but his astounding start to the season has somewhat ground to a halt. He has fired blanks in the last four competitive games and needs to break that streak to avoid letting confidence slip away again.

Form guide: Roma (L W W W L) Chievo (W W D L W)

Last season: Roma 3-0 Chievo

Stat fact: Roma have won and kept a clean sheet in the last three Stadio Olimpico meetings between the teams, scoring seven goals. Chievo haven’t beaten the Giallorossi, home or away, since a 1-0 result here in May 2013, followed by four losses and two draws.

Top tip: Roma to score in both halves.

Roma (probable): Szczesny; Rudiger, Vermaelen, Fazio, Mario Rui; Paredes, Strootman; Salah, Perotti, El Shaarawy; Dzeko

Suspended: None

Chievo (probable): Sorrentino; Frey, Dainelli, Gamberini, Cacciatore; De Guzman, Radovanovic, Castro; Birsa; Meggiorini, Pellissier