Lautaro Martinez has called for an end to the ongoing stand-off between Inter and former captain Mauro Icardi.

Striker Icardi has not played for the club since being stripped of the armband by head coach Luciano Spalletti last month.

But despite his absence, Inter climbed to third in Serie A with a thrilling 3-2 win against rivals AC Milan on Sunday.

Martinez scored what proved to be the winner from the penalty spot but the Argentina attacker still wants compatriot Icardi back.

"The situation is unpleasant, it is not at all nice for both Icardi and the group," Martinez said to TNT Sports.

"However, we can only continue to train and play with maximum commitment.

"We are employees and, as such, we must always be available to the club, but we hope that everything will be resolved as soon as possible.

"Icardi, his entourage and the club will decide. We try to stay focused on our work."

Mauro Icardi's stand-off with Inter could soon be resolved, according to the Serie A club's general manager Giuseppe Marotta.

Icardi has not played since he was stripped of the captaincy in February, as talks over a new contract reportedly broke down.

Marotta has since held positive talks with Icardi's wife and agent Wanda Nara, although the Inters striker remains sidelined with a supposed knee injury.

But Marotta believes that the situation is close to a resolution, insisting that the decision to hand the captain's armband to Samir Handanovic was not a punishment for Icardi.

"I hope the situation can mend itself," Marotta told reporters.

"We're a family and parents must make decisions for the sake of their children, but they're not punishments. They're made so the kids can grow and get better.

"That's how our decision should be interpreted. I hope we can mend this rift as quickly as possible because Icardi is a good lad who has given a lot to Inter and can still give us so much.

"Now he's struggling with a knee problem. We hope it heals as quickly as possible and that he returns to the group after rehabilitation."

Icardi's absence was felt by Inter as they went out of the Europa League on Thursday, but Luciano Spalletti's side responded in style by beating rivals AC Milan 3-2 in a thrilling Derby della Madonnina on Sunday, moving them up to third place in Serie A.

AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso was fuming with the bench row between Franck Kessie and Lucas Biglia during Sunday's 3-2 defeat to Inter, warning them he would have got involved too had he seen the incident initially.

Lautaro Martinez's penalty ultimately proved decisive as Inter crept above Milan and moved up to third in the table, but Gattuso was angrier about something else entirely after the match.

Kessie had been withdrawn after 69 minutes and looked visibly irritated as he was replaced by Andrea Conti.

When Kessie headed back to the bench, Biglia appeared to say something to him and he reacted aggressively, requiring several team-mates to physically restrain him.

Both apologised to the media after the derby clash, but Gattuso remained unimpressed in his post-match news conference.

"It can be that a player makes a mistake," Gattuso told reporters. "In the next few days I'll talk to those involved, now I don't want to say anything.

"I cannot accept that, even if you are angry. We are not in pre-school.

"Luckily, I didn't see it, because if I had seen the incident I would have made a fool of myself and I would have thrown myself into the fray too."

Defeat to Inter ended Milan's five-match winning streak in Serie A.

AC Milan midfielders Franck Kessie and Lucas Biglia apologised for an altercation between the two team-mates on the bench during Sunday's 3-2 derby defeat to Inter.

Kessie had been withdrawn after 69 minutes and looked visibly irritated as he was replaced by Andrea Conti.

When heading back to the bench, Biglia appeared to say something to Kessie and he reacted aggressively, requiring several team-mates to physically restrain him.

The pair addressed the media afterwards and regretted the situation, with former Atalanta star Kessie accepting responsibility.

"It was [down to] the adrenaline of the match," Kessie told Sky Sport Italia. "I was frustrated about coming off and wanted to do more.

"I took it out on Lucas, which was a mistake. I apologised after. He is older than me and I should look to him to learn. I am sorry."

Biglia accepted the two should have aired their grievances in the privacy of the dressing room, rather than in front of the television cameras.

"Franck knows what I said and we clarified things after," Biglia added. "We all wanted to win, but this isn't something we should be doing in front of everyone. We should maybe save it for the dressing room.

"Above all, we feel bad for this embarrassing situation. I feel ashamed and have apologised to the team and the coach personally.

"It's not what we wanted. We embarrassed the club we represent. It won't happen again."

Inter beat bitter rivals AC Milan 3-2 in Sunday's thrilling derby to move above their neighbours in the Serie A table, with Lautaro Martinez's penalty ultimately proving decisive.

Luciano Spalletti, who was sent to the stands in the closing stages, had seen his side win just once in five competitive outings amid the ongoing stand-off with Mauro Icardi, but they produced a focused display to end Milan's five-match winning Serie A streak.

Inter were superior to Milan all over the pitch in the first half, with Matias Vecino's early goal setting the tone for proceedings until the break, before Stefan de Vrij made it 2-0 just after the interval.

Tiemoue Bakayoko hit back for Milan before Martinez – who continues to start in Icardi's place – netted from the spot and, although Mateo Musacchio forced a tense finish, Inter just about did enough to move back up to third above their rivals.

Despite Milan's excellent form coming into the game, Inter looked far more fired up at the start and went ahead after just three minutes – Vecino blasting in from close range after Martinez nodded Ivan Perisic's cross back into the danger zone.

De Vrij doubled the lead in the 50th minute when he met Matteo Politano's cross with a towering header into the top-right corner.

But the deficit was halved soon after – Bakayoko meeting Hakan Calhanoglu's free-kick with a fine header of his own.

The lively Politano won a penalty from Alessio Romagnoli in the 67th minute, with Martinez confidently dispatching what proved to be the clincher.

Musacchio thrashed home from six yards soon after – the goal standing despite Krzysztof Piatek appearing to stray offside.

Milan were boosted again when VAR overturned a red card shown to Andrea Conti for a rash tackle on Martinez, the reversal sparking a reaction from Spalletti which brought about his dismissal.

But Inter managed to hang on, with Samir Handanovic crucially blocking Samu Castillejo's late header and Danilo D'Ambrosio brilliantly denied Patrick Cutrone.

What does it mean? Derby della Madonnina still a spectacle

It is fair to say that neither Inter nor Milan are what they once were, but on Sunday they put on quite the show, scrapping like their lives depended on it and also producing a bit of quality now and again. These are not classic squads, but the derby remains a rollercoaster ride.

Martinez holds his nerve

Although chances for the Argentinian striker were not frequent, Martinez ran tirelessly, kept the Milan defence busy and showed admirable nerve to score his penalty. The youngster looks at home in this fixture.

Piatek fails to shine in the spotlight

With Icardi absent, the opportunity was there for Piatek to show who is the new star in town, but he offered precious little for a Milan side who rarely threatened aside from their two goals.

What's next?

Milan travel to Sampdoria on Saturday, while Inter host Lazio a day later.

Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti insists he has no regrets about his handling of the Mauro Icardi saga.

Icardi will not be involved in Inter's Derby della Madonnina against AC Milan on Sunday, as a stand-off over his future and conflicting takes from club and player over his fitness continue.

Inter are fourth – just a point and place behind their city rivals – but go into the clash having won just once in their last five games and off the back of a Europa League exit to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

The ongoing Icardi soap opera continues to provide an unwelcome distraction for Spalletti but he is adamant that he would not have done anything differently.

"If I go back in time, I lose more time," he told a media conference

"I don't go back, I go on. Choices must be made at the moment and after you have taken them you have to stick with them."

He then told the assembled journalists: "If you go back and rewrite your articles, it's a mess."

Milan enter the game in contrastingly high spirits following a run of five consecutive wins in Serie A. 

That recent upturn owes much to the prolific form of Krzysztof Piatek, who has scored six goals in as many league starts since joining from Genoa in January.

Spalletti, however, says Inter will not be taking any specific measures to stop the Poland striker.

"We usually defend against the whole team, never individually," he explained. "It is clear that we will also have to take into consideration the individual challenge, but it depends where he plays."

When asked if his side can finish above their city rivals, Spalletti made it clear that is focus is squarely on securing a Champions League qualification spot.

"They're a strong team as they're showing at this time, but our aim is to finish in the top four," he added.

AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso has accused Mauro Icardi of lacking respect for his Inter team-mates ahead of Sunday's Derby della Madonnina.

Icardi will not be involved at San Siro when the city rivals clash, as a stand-off over his Inter future and conflicting takes from club and player over his fitness continue.

Milan enter the game in contrastingly high spirits, a point and a place ahead of Inter in third following a run of five consecutive wins in Serie A.

Asked about Icardi, who scored a last-gasp winner when the sides met earlier this season but has now been stripped of the Inter captaincy, Gattuso told a pre-match news conference: "The way I see it, even the best player in the world should respect his team-mates.

"Respect for players and those who represent them is fundamental. The locker room is sacred.

"I appreciate when my players speak their mind in person."

Milan's recent upturn owes much to the prolific form of Krzysztof Piatek, who has scored six goals in as many league starts since joining from Genoa in January.

The Poland striker's dedication in training was initially mistaken for dissatisfaction by Gattuso, who is delighted by his recent recruit's attitude.

"We do not speak much, he prefers actions on the pitch," he said.

"I am beginning to see him smile more often. At the beginning I thought he was upset with me.

"He is dedicated and likes to train, he knows what needs to be done."

Gattuso added: "The team has to make the difference on the pitch. Few players are capable of winning a game on their own, we are not in a condition to win based on just one player."

Luciano Spalletti is not to blame for the problems that have destabilised Inter's season, according to CEO Beppe Marotta.

The Nerazzurri slumped to a shock Europa League exit at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt in a 1-0 loss at San Siro on Thursday.

Inter have now won just one of their past five matches in all competitions and are in danger of sliding out of the top four in Serie A.

The highly publicised contract saga surrounding Mauro Icardi has exacerbated the pressure on Spalletti ahead of this weekend's Milan derby.

"The coach has nothing to do with it," Marotta told reporters.

"Difficulties arise regardless of the identity of the coach. We have to get to this important milestone [of finishing in the top four] with him.

"There's great bitterness about our elimination from the Europa League. It hurts us. 

"We're not looking for excuses, but the reality is that we had nine players missing [against Frankfurt], not just Icardi."

Inter's star striker has not featured since being stripped of the captaincy in February and is expected to miss Sunday's crunch clash against the Rossoneri, who are one point ahead of Inter in third.

Marotta believes the two parties can still reach a positive resolution despite widespread speculation that the 26-year-old is destined to leave at the end of the season.

"I'm always optimistic because I always think that common sense prevails, and subsequently I think we can find satisfaction," he said.

It was only December when reports emerged the axe could be set to fall on AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso, with Arsene Wenger the man on everyone's lips.

Only two wins in seven matches that month, and Ivan Gazidis' arrival from Arsenal, increased pressure on Gattuso and prompted speculation over former Gunners manager Wenger.

Ex-Chelsea and Juventus head coach Antonio Conte was also linked with a return to Italy via Milan.

Since the New Year, however, Gattuso and his Milan have only lost once in 12 games in all competitions – including five successive Serie A victories heading into Sunday's derby against Inter.

Across the city divide, Luciano Spalletti's Inter have stuttered as they deal with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding former captain Mauro Icardi.

With Milan in form and on track to qualify for the Champions League, Rossoneri great Gattuso has fans dreaming again.

 

Difficult December

Already under pressure following Leonardo's return, the month of December only plunged Gattuso's position into further doubt. Back at the club as they continued to overhaul their senior hierarchy under new owners Elliott Management, sporting director Leonardo was forced to deny links with Conte in July. Five months later, the 49-year-old Brazilian then dismissed reports Gattuso could be replaced. Leonardo's backing came after a five-match winless streak, which included a run of four league games without a goal against Torino, Bologna, Fiorentina and Frosinone. At that stage, Inter were third and seven points clear of fourth-placed Lazio following victories over Napoli and Empoli to close out 2018.

Higuain out, Piatek in

Gonzalo Higuain's arrival from Juventus at the expense of Leonardo Bonucci after just one season was meant to signal a new era at San Siro, with the Argentina international seen as the man to follow in the footsteps of Andriy Shevchenko and others. Many believed Milan were the winners of that deal too after also signing promising defender Mattia Caldara. It did not go according to plan, however. Higuain – often a frustrated figure on the pitch – left for Chelsea and a Maurizio Sarri reunion having scored just eight goals in all competitions. Milan wasted little time replacing the former Napoli striker, turning to Genoa sensation Krzysztof Piatek in a €35million deal in January. With Brazilian star Lucas Paqueta's transfer triggering memories of Kaka, Milan enjoyed an upturn in form. After making his debut against Napoli, Piatek opened his account with a double against the same opposition in the Coppa Italia three days later. Milan only lost once in January – against Juve in the Supercoppa Italiana – as Gattuso celebrated his true number nine.

Atalanta comeback

Leaving the Italian capital with a point against Roma thanks to Piatek further highlighted Milan's resurgence, which the Poland international and Paqueta backed up at home to Cagliari. But, it was the win at Atalanta that really impressed. One of the most entertaining teams in the league under Gian Piero Gasperini, Atalanta were stunned by a red-hot Milan. With another Piatek brace, a settled front three and a midfield trio of Franck Kessie, Paqueta and Tiemoue Bakayoko – finally returning to his Monaco form – performing well, doubts over Gattuso quickly disappeared. As for the Nerazzurri, they went through a turbulent February. After playing as Inter snapped a three-match losing run against Parma, Icardi was stripped of the captaincy and replaced by Samir Handanovic. The 26-year-old has not featured in the eight matches since.

Milan leapfrog Inter

Repaying the faith shown and solidifying the rebuilding project under Elliott Management, Gattuso's Milan continued to fly high as they went from fourth to third, dislodging Inter for the final Champions League automatic qualifying spot. A fourth successive league win at home to Sassuolo, coupled with Inter's shock loss away to Cagliari, saw Milan take full advantage to leapfrog their bitter rivals in the standings. Absent from the Champions League since 2013-14, Milan cemented that position – only six points behind second-placed Napoli – with a gritty victory on the road against Chievo, where Piatek enhanced his status as a fan favourite.

A city divided on and off the pitch. Sunday's derby will pit AC Milan against bitter rivals Inter – a Serie A blockbuster with Champions League implications.

In-form Milan occupy third in the table, a point above Inter ahead of the San Siro showdown.

Milan have won five straight league games and are unbeaten in their past 10 matches in all competitions under Gennaro Gattuso, while Inter have struggled for consistency amid the chaos surrounding Mauro Icardi's future with the Nerazzurri.

Ahead of the 223rd Derby della Madonnina, we unveil our combined XI from Milan and Inter players thanks to Opta.

 

Goalkeeper: Samir Handanovic (Inter)

The selection set to raise most eyebrows, Handanovic gets the nod over Gianluigi Donnarumma. Both goalkeepers have made 27 appearances this season, but new Inter captain Handanovic – who has conceded one less goal than his rival with 22 – has kept 13 clean sheets, compared to Donnarumma's nine.

Right-back: Davide Calabria (AC Milan)

The 22-year-old Italian – who has been linked with Manchester United among others – slots into the right-back position, ahead of Inter's Danilo D'Ambrosio. With 40 tackles won (15 more than his counterpart), 27 interceptions (seven greater than D'Ambrosio) and 94 successful duels, Calabria has continued to impress this season.

Left-back: Ricardo Rodriguez (AC Milan)

Another Milan full-back makes it into the XI, with Kwadwo Asamoah overlooked in favour of Rodriguez. The Switzerland international has been a mainstay down the left for Gattuso and Milan with 25 Serie A appearances. Rodriguez has provided three assists, completed 1,231 successful passes at left-back and won 20 tackles – areas all superior to Asamoah.

Centre-back: Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan)

The Milan captain and face of the future, Romagnoli is enjoying another stellar campaign. The 24-year-old Italy centre-back has proved to be a rock at the back for the Rossoneri, while chipping in with two goals.

Centre-back: Stefan de Vrij (Inter)

De Vrij has slotted in seamlessly alongside Milan Skriniar following his free transfer from Lazio. The Dutchman has made 21 interceptions in 22 games, even scoring a goal in the process for Inter.

Central midfield: Radja Nainggolan (Inter)

Inter gave up a lot when they parted with cash and young midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo for Nainggolan from Roma. The experienced midfielder, however, is starting to prove his worth after a slow start. Reunited with Luciano Spalletti, Nainggolan has three goals and as many assists in 19 appearances. 

Central midfield: Marcelo Brozovic (Inter)

Brozovic has come into his own this term. After helping Croatia reach the 2018 World Cup final, Brozovic has won 139 duels – the most of any player in the combined XI. The 26-year-old has also won 56 tackles, 36 interceptions and completed a team-best 1656 passes to go with two goals and an assist.  

Central midfield: Franck Kessie (AC Milan)

He provides pace, power and penetration. Kessie has earned plenty of admirers following his exploits for Milan, who have benefited from his four goals and an assist in midfield. His break-up play – highlighted by 23 interceptions – have proved priceless.  

Right wing: Suso (AC Milan)

One of the first names on the teamsheet at Milan – Suso has flourished after arriving from Liverpool in 2015. This season, the Spanish playmaker has dished up eight assists and scored five goals – well ahead of Inter winger Ivan Perisic, who has found the back of the net four times and posted just two assists.

Left wing: Matteo Politano (Inter)

While Perisic has struggled to replicate his destructive form of previous seasons, Sassuolo loanee Politano – who can sign for Inter permanently at the end of the campaign – has picked up the slack with four goals and three assists.

Centre-forward: Krzysztof Piatek (AC Milan)

Piatek has renewed hope among Milan fans. When Gonzalo Higuain's unsuccessful loan spell came to an end in January, the club's hierarchy turned to the Polish sharp-shooter. And Piatek has delivered with six goals in seven Serie A appearances since leaving Genoa, where he scored 13 times for an overall tally of 19 – only one behind league leader Fabio Quagliarella, level with Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo and 10 clear of Icardi.

Mauro Icardi's ongoing stand-off with Inter looms over this weekend's derby showdown against AC Milan at San Siro.

The striker was stripped of the club captaincy in February and is yet to return to training following a knee problem, despite head coach Luciano Spalletti stating he has been cleared by Inter's medical staff.

Icardi's wife and agent Wanda Nara insisted again this week that the Argentina international wants to remain with the Nerazzurri but, even if he does, his status as the most potent frontman in the city is under threat.

Poland's Krzysztof Piatek has been a revelation since joining Milan from Genoa in January and the rivals' contrasting form of late can partially be explained by the contributions of their leading centre-forwards.

With Piatek making hay as Icardi watches on, we took a look at some Opta data comparing the two number nines.

80.33 – Piatek averages better than a goal a game in Serie A since linking up with Gennaro Gattuso's squad, netting six in as many starts to average one every 80.33 minutes.

13 – The 23-year's introduction to Serie A with Genoa earlier this season was similarly prolific as he scored 13 times in 19 appearances.

102.34 – Icardi's goals-per-minute reading for 2017-18, when he scored 29 in 34 Serie A outings – all of which were starts. Piatek's Genoa stint was shy of this in terms of goal regularity, clocking 122.62 minutes per goal.

9 – Icardi's productivity had dropped off considerably this season, even before his absence. Over the course of 20 appearances, 18 from the first whistle, he has scored nine times or once every 185.44 minutes.

76.92 – Piatek's shooting accuracy percentage at Milan, up from 50 at Genoa. Over the course of his prolific 2017-18, Icardi's accuracy stood at 63.1 per cent as he returned 1.6 shots on target per game.

37.5 – Another number assisted by the smaller sample of Piatek's time at Milan, but his shot conversion percentage is, again, impressively high. Icardi converted 28.71 per cent last season, down to 16.98 this time around.

Luciano Spalletti believes that Inter lost any hope of salvaging their Europa League campaign as soon as Luka Jovic put Eintracht Frankfurt ahead in Thursday's clash at San Siro.

Jovic scored five minutes in to put Frankfurt 1-0 up on the night and in the tie, with Inter offering little of note in response as the Bundesliga side secured their place in the quarter-finals.

It would have been more for Frankfurt if not for Samir Handanovic's fine form, while Sebastien Haller also hit the bar and had a goal disallowed.

And Spalletti, whose side were without a recognised striker due to Lautaro Martinez's suspension and Mauro Icardi's continued absence, conceded Inter lacked the belief required to lodge a comeback.

"We lacked a bit of everything. We lost balance immediately and made some mistakes for the opener, then got irritable and lost even more balance," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"It became a very difficult game. If you don't clear your lines first, or make rough passes, everything becomes an open ball to challenge for. If you treat it with more quality, it's within your control.

"Even when moving the ball between spaces, we never created anything of note. The early goal just cranked up the tension and made us feel as if there was no chance. We lost it straight away.

"We had plenty of time to deal with the situation intelligently. Instead, we were immediately frenetic and chaotic, trying to force the ball through with individual moves rather than as a team."

Inter now face city rivals AC Milan in a crunch Serie A clash on Sunday, with both sides – along with Roma – battling for Champions League qualification.

Spalletti, however, has urged Inter's support to remain patient with their side despite seeing them fail in both the Champions League and Europa League this term.

"There are high expectations, we want to be a winning team straight away, but there's very little chance of that," he added.

"What we have to do is try to bring home some important results via balance, but we lost our balance immediately.

"We certainly need to do better than we did tonight. We need more confidence. We'll look back over this match and recognise we didn't read it the right way."

Inter's Europa League campaign came to a lacklustre end as Luka Jovic's early strike secured Eintracht Frankfurt's progression into the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win.

Kevin Trapp had been Frankfurt's hero with his penalty save in the goalless first leg and, without a recognised striker to call on, Luciano Spalletti's Inter side were toothless throughout Thursday's meeting.

Jovic showed Inter – still without Mauro Icardi, who has not played since being stripped of the captaincy in mid-February – what they were missing with a composed finish that paved the way for a dominant Frankfurt display at San Siro.

Sebastien Haller hit the woodwork prior to Jovic's strike and Frankfurt would have had more if not for fine work from Samir Handanovic and Milan Skriniar as Inter, who face AC Milan in a huge Serie A clash on Sunday, went out with a whimper.

Any doubts over Frankfurt's approach to the contest were put aside after four minutes – Haller hitting the crossbar after Handanovic had kept out Mijat Gacinovic's effort.

Inter failed to heed that warning, though, and Frankfurt had the lead a minute later when Jovic capitalised on Stefan de Vrij's misjudgement and lofted a delicate finish over Handanovic.

Haller looked to have made it 2-0 before the half hour, but the offside flag came to Inter's rescue before the striker and Gacinovic were denied in the same move by Handanovic's superb double save.

Jovic could have doubled his tally after the restart, only to slip at the vital moment, while Skriniar made a crucial challenge to deny Gacinovic a free shot at goal.

But, despite Jovic heading straight at Handanovic late on, Frankfurt were not made to pay for their profligacy, speculative efforts from Antonio Candreva and Skriniar the most Inter could muster as their European hopes were limply extinguished.

 

What does it mean? Frankfurt flying Germany's flag in Europe

With Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich having crashed out of the Champions League, Frankfurt are now the Bundesliga's sole representatives in Europe, and will rightly harbour hopes of going all the way.

Inter, meanwhile, must now focus on securing Champions League qualification via a top-four finish in Serie A, but their task continues to be overshadowed by doubts over Icardi's future.

Jovic back on the goal trail

Considering his exploits this season, three games without a goal represented a dip in form for Jovic, but the 21-year-old – who has 15 Bundesliga goals this term –  ended his mini draught in typically clinical fashion.

Keita toils in Icardi, Martinez absences

With Icardi not available and Lautaro Martinez suspended, Keita Balde Diao deputised up top for Inter, but despite offering pace and guile, he lacked the nous and positional sense to really test Frankfurt's line.

What's next?

It is the Milan derby up next for Inter, who are currently a point behind their city rivals in Serie A as both clubs aim to secure Champions League qualification. Frankfurt, meanwhile, take on Nurnberg as they push for a top-four Bundesliga finish.

Luciano Spalletti feels it could be an advantage for Inter to be without a recognised striker for their Europa League last-16 tie at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Spalletti's side are without Lautaro Martinez due to suspension and Mauro Icardi is not in the squad, the latter having not played since being stripped of the captaincy.

A clutch of youth team players have been called up to bolster a thin squad but Spalletti denied having an eye on Sunday's derby clash with AC Milan in Serie A.

Keita Balde Diao and Matteo Politano are among the options available to Spalletti in attack on Thursday, with Inter at home for the second leg after last week's goalless draw in Frankfurt.

"Politano played as a striker last year for Sassuolo and did really well," Spalletti told reporters.

"Not giving clear points of reference to the opposition can be an added advantage. Keita Balde is also comfortable in that position.

"Keita is doing well, while [Marcelo] Brozovic has been called up but will be on the bench. Borja Valero will play as normal. We hope that these few rest days have got [Ivan] Perisic back to his best.

"He's an important player for us. He's blessed with plenty of qualities, whether that be fitness, physicality or his ability to beat a man. His contribution is key, just like all the other players.

"Obviously, I won't complain about who I have available. Complaining doesn't help you qualify. We'll have 11 players out on the pitch, which is all that is needed to win matches.

"As for the younger players, if they're part of a club like ours then they must always be prepared. There may be an opportunity for some of them to show what they can do." 

Inter's game against Milan could have huge implications for the Champions League qualification chances of both sides.

"We must focus on tomorrow's match before thinking about the derby," Spalletti added. 

"We have the ability to win tomorrow and those that play must be motivated, being fully aware of the game's importance.

"It's a knockout tie and we must make the right decisions to ensure that we don't pay a dear price. We must make the most of our experience in Europe so far."

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