After his suspension and subsequent dismissal from the U.S. men’s national team for two of its three World Cup qualifiers in September, midfielder Weston McKennie will be back in the Juventus starting XI for the Serie A match against Napoli on Saturday.
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri confirmed McKennie’s inclusion in his pregame press conference.
“McKennie is fine and will be in the first XI, we will see in what role. Federico Chiesa will stay at home as a precaution,” Allegri said. “[Saturday] we have the ideal lineup to play against Napoli. In moments of difficulty we have to pull out something more to get out of it.”
The USMNT midfielder was suspended by head coach Gregg Berhalter for the World Cup qualifier against Canada and then sent home early ahead of the match in Honduras for violating the team’s COVID-19 protocol.
McKennie apologized for the violation, which reportedy involved bringing a person into the hotel and spending the night outside the team bubble.
The 23-year-old faced criticism for his actions, including from former U.S. national team players. But Berhalter said McKennie will be back with the USA eventually: “Me and Weston had long conversations. He’s a guy that I care for deeply.
“He’s a big part of the team and I’m sure when he’s performing well he’ll be back on the team.”
McKennie’s time at Juventus
Juventus acquired McKennie from German side Schalke on an initial loan deal in August 2020 before making the move permanent in March 2021.
He scored five times in 34 Serie A appearances under former manager Andrea Pirlo. He made headlines for breaking COVID-19 protocols prior to the local Turin derby as police were summoned to his residence after he hosted a party with teammates that broke a local curfew. Juventus suspended him for the incident.
This season McKennie has played just 45 minutes. After missing the first Serie A game of the season due to yellow-card accumulation, McKennie started against Empoli at the end of August, but was substituted at halftime.
Reports in Italy claimed the club were considering transferring him in the summer given interest from English clubs, but Allegri stepped in and made sure McKennie remained, stating that “he has goals in his legs.”