Antonio Conte has ordered his Inter players to get straight back down to business by beating Bologna tomorrow.
The Nerazzurri have not played a game in Serie A for three weeks now, following the postponement of the match against Sassuolo and the subsequent international break.
Conte’s side remain six points clear of AC Milan ahead of the trip to the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, but the Inter boss is in no mood to take his foot off the gas now.
“It’ll be important to restart in the right manner,” Conte told reporters at his pre-match press conference before the game against the Rossoblu.
“We will certainly need to be very careful against Bologna, we’ll be playing a great team with an excellent coach in Sinisa Mihajlovic.
“Bologna play an aggressive style of football and we’re preparing ourselves.
“All the international players got back yesterday and we’re trying to prepare the game well in the smallest time possible.”
Conte was asked what he wanted to tell his players in order to ensure they picked up where they had left off three weeks ago.
“We need to try and start where we left things against Torino,” he answered.
“It’s never easy after the international break because you have to get adjusted again but the players know full well that there’s not much time.
“We can’t afford to waste time talking, we need to stay quiet and work.”
Inter have mostly played with the same starting XI in the last two months, but now the Nerazzurri have three games in quick succession against Bologna, Sassuolo and Cagliari.
Asked if this would be a good opportunity to rotate his squad more, Conte said: “I have resources to hand and I try to make the most of them by making the right choices and with balance.
“Sometimes I’m proven right and sometimes less so, but I coach all the players with a view to playing them so they’re all ready to do their bit if they’re called upon.”
Inter are on an eight-game winning run as they visit the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara tomorrow and Conte was asked whether he had expected them to pick up such form in 2021.
“Like I’ve always said, the important thing is to be consistent with your results,” he argued.
“We’ve done well to create this run of victories and I hope we don’t stop.
“At Bologna we know we’ll be playing a side that will do everything to halt our charge.
“We’ve reached this point thanks to the work we’ve done so far.
“We’ve been working since last year and we’re trying to improve ourselves, getting rid of our defects and making the most of our qualities.”
Inter’s destiny depends entirely on themselves now after they pulled out a clear gap to their title rivals before the international break.
Asked if this could be an extra pressure to manage, Conte said: “The pressure is what there always has to be for a team like Inter.
“They’re teams which are used to experience these situations and we need to approach it in the right manner.
“I understand that for many players it’s the first time but we need to focus on oursdelves.
“We’ve always thought this way and we’ll continue to do so.”
Conte was also asked to provide an update on Inter’s players who tested negative for COVID-19 recently, namely Samir Handanovic, Matias Vecino and Stefan de Vrij.
He also responded to Stefano Sensi’s impressive performances for Italy in FIFA World Cup qualifying, after the 25-year-old scored for the Azzurri in Lithuania on Wednesday.
“Handanovic was negative immediately, he’s the one who was able to resume training in the most efficient way,” Conte responded.
“Vecino is back in training as of three days ago as well and he’s in a good condition, not least because my staff worked with the players when they were at home.
“De Vrij did his first session with us again yesterday.
“It’s inevitable there’ll be some lasting effects for those who had the virus but we’ve tried to keep them in a great condition.
“We hope we can have Danilo D’Ambrosio back soon too, we need everyone.
“I’m very happy for Stefano because it was very important to make a breakthrough on a mental level.
“We need everyone from here until the end of the season and so the fact he’s made this breakthrough is positive for us.”