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Soccer: Roma's title hopes hit by Destro ban, Benatia injury

Striker suspended for four matches after hitting Cagliari player

08 April, 16:27
Soccer: Roma's title hopes hit by Destro ban, Benatia injury (ANSA) - Rome, April 8 - AS Roma's hopes of catching Serie A leaders Juventus in the season's final straight suffered a double setback on Tuesday when they found out they have lost defender Mehdi Benatia to injury and forward Mattia Destro to suspension.

In-form striker Destro was banned for four of the remaining six games by Serie A's sporting judge.

One match of the ban was automatically incurred by a yellow card he was given in Sunday's 3-1 win over Cagliari, in which he scored all of his side's goals.

The other three were for violent conduct for hitting Cagliari's Davide Astori in the face, an incident the judge ruled had escaped the referee's notice after consulting the official.

Roma are likely to appeal against the ban.

ANSA sources said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is unlikely to call up Destro for next week's pre-World Cup fitness tests as a result of the ban. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old remains in the running for a place in Prandelli's squad for this summer's tournament in Brazil, the sources said.

Prandelli does not call up players who are serving suspensions, in accordance with his code of conduct for the national team. The code only applies for the duration of the ban.

Moroccan Benatia, meanwhile, risks missing the rest of the season after the club said Tuesday that tests showed he suffered a tendon-muscle injury in the area of his left thigh-knee in the Cagliari win. The problem is expected to sideline him for at least a month. Roma are eight points behind Juventus, who are aiming for their third consecutive Serie A title.