Inter manager Antonio Conte hopes Christian Eriksen’s performance in today’s Coppa Italia win against Fiorentina helps build the midfielder’s confidence.
Eriksen played in a deep-lying play-maker position for the first time at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, completing all 120 minutes as the Nerazzurri secured a 2-1 win in extra-time.
It was only the Danish international’s sixth start of the season in all competitions but Conte appeared to leave the door open to more starts in the future.
“I have always said, we must be good at exploiting all our potential, the coach must be good at doing it and not leaving any stone unturned,” he told reporters in his post-match press conference.
“Christian is a positive guy, he has trained all week and I played him in a role where we do not have much cover.
“I tried playing Nicolo Barella there but he is not a regista, he is more of an attacking player.
“We try to involve Eriksen in everything we do, then obviously I have to make choices.
“I hope that this match can also let him believe more in himself.”
Inter were once again reliant upon heroics from Romelu Lukaku in Florence, with the Belgian coming off the bench to score a 119th-minute winner.
Conte’s side will now face AC Milan in the quarter-finals and he had no doubts Inter deserved their place in the last eight.
“We certainly deserved to qualify during the 90 minutes, the fact that we had to wait for extra-time could have created a bit of anxiety,” he continued.
“We also created scoring chances in extra time, but we were a bit too hasty.
“It’s a qualification that gives us positive energy also for Sunday’s match against Juventus, when we will face another team as strong as Roma were.
“It will be the moment when we will measure our ambitions and find out how much we’ve reduced the gap to Juve.”
Conte was then asked whether he is worried that the team had to go through extra time ahead of this weekend’s Derby d’Italia at San Siro.
“Honestly I don’t think so, I hope it can have zero influence.
“The boys are well trained, we made a lot of changes.
“We got the qualification thanks to the fundamental contribution off the bench.
“Andrea Ranocchia played an excellent game, the fact that there was the opportunity to see others is important, we gave Marcelo Brozovic and others a chance to recover also in view of the league game.”
Conte then went on to insist that he and his team cannot allow themselves to be affected by the recent news concerning the potential sale of Inter, with CEO Beppe Marotta confirming pre-game that Suning were considering selling shares in the club to new investors.
“With the players there is great compactness and unity, I was very clear with them and I said that we must think exclusively of working and doing our best, to make our fans proud.
“It is inevitable that we cannot say that we do not care but it is a situation that must not influence us.
“We are professionals and we know that there may be particular situations.
“By doing our best we will make the fans proud.”
The former Chelsea coach was then asked if he could provide an update on the condition of Stefano Sensi who picked up an injury during the warm-up.
“He had fatigue in his calf during the warm-up, he told us that he did not feel like taking risks.
“I am trying to protect him and make him regain confidence.”
Conte then reflected on match-winner Lukaku’s performance and confirmed that the Belgian will be at 100% for Sunday’s match against Juventus.
“He came on, he did well even if he struggled a bit to get into the game.
“He’s a guy who gets ready even when he’s not at 100%.
“He’ll have time to recover and be 100% for Sunday’s game.”
In conclusion, Conte, who has been in charge of Inter for about a year and a half, was asked what he is expecting come the time Monday rolls around.
“We have to wait after the match to see where we will be in terms of standings.
“We have to measure our growth after a year and a half of work.”