26.02.2016 02:22 h

Hernanes committed to cause as Juve prepare for Inter

Brazilian midfielder Hernanes has surrendered hope of a free-scoring role but said he is committed to the cause as Juventus look to stretch their Serie A lead against his former club Inter Milan on Sunday.

Hernanes hit five goals in 26 appearances for Inter in his final full season before moving to Turin for 11m euros ($12.14m) in August 2015.

Yet with only 13 games remaining this season, the 30-year-old from Recife has been forced to reassess his personal expectations as part of a squad for whom winning trophies is widely expected.

From the relative freedom enjoyed at Inter and, before that, Lazio, Hernanes has been used in several midfield positions by coach Massimiliano Allegri as the champions continue their bid for a treble of trophies this season.

"I came to Juventus full of bounce, with the idea that I would be playing up front and scoring lots of goals," said Hernanes.

"But the coach changed my position and I've had to adapt. I'm starting to feel at ease, but I can still improve."

Despite failing to cement a regular starting spot, Hernanes's versatility is quickly becoming an advantage for Juventus and he was ready when it mattered in midweek.

It was half-time at Juventus Stadium, holding midfielder Claudio Marchisio had gone off injured and Juve were trailing 2-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Moved into the centre of midfield alongside Sami Khedira, Hernanes inspired a lacklustre Juve with an energetic yet solid performance that helped launch a stirring comeback thanks to goals from Paulo Dybala and Stefano Sturaro.

Although Bayern are expected to seal a quarter-final place following the return leg on March 16, before then Juventus face Inter twice in the league and Cup as they bid to at least keep their double aims on track.

A win on Sunday would see Juventus stretch their lead over title-chasing Napoli to four points ahead of the Azzurri's much-anticipated trip to Fiorentina on Monday, when fellow Europa League opponents Lazio travel to Sassuolo.

Inter's title hopes have faded since the resumption of hostilities in early January, since when Roberto Mancini's men have won only three times in nine outings.

Inter boosted flagging morale with a 3-1 win over Sampdoria last week but Mancini's men are 10 points off the pace and four points behind third-placed Fiorentina in the first Champions League qualifying spot.

Mancini was given a boost on Thursday when league officials accepted an appeal against Geoffrey Kondogbia's two-match ban, meaning the French midfielder is available.

But defeat on Sunday would complicate the 2010 champions' bid to return to Europe's premier club competition after a four-year absence.

"It's a very important game for us and we'll give everything to try and win," Croatian midfielder Ivan Perisic told Inter Channel.

But the odds are all against the visitors.

A struggling Juventus held Inter to a scoreless draw earlier this season and, once they had found their rhythm, stunned Mancini's men 3-0 in the opening leg of their Italian Cup semi-final.

Inter host Juventus in the second leg on Wednesday, and Perisic added: "It won't be easy to overturn the score from the first game but we'll keep fighting until the last minute."

Elsewhere, Roma will move provisionally up to third place with a win at Empoli where Luciano Spalletti's visitors will target a sixth consecutive win for the first time this season a week after a 5-0 rout of Palermo.

AC Milan, who held Napoli 1-1 last week, will look to stretch their unbeaten run to nine games when they host Torino looking to close the gap on the European places.

Sinisa Mihajlovic's men sit in sixth, 14 points behind Juventus and eight behind Fiorentina.