NEWS
Sunday February 2 2020
Conte: 'Glad I pushed for Inter buys'

Antonio Conte was “satisfied” with Christian Eriksen’s Serie A debut and Romelu Lukaku’s brace to beat Udinese. “I’m happy to have pushed so hard for him to arrive!”

It was a changed Nerazzurri side with Eriksen and Victor Moses getting their Serie A debuts, plus Sebastiano Esposito in for suspended Lautaro Martinez and Daniele Padelli replacing injured Samir Handanovic.

Udinese arguably had the better of the first half, but Lukaku toe-poked one finish between Bram Nuytinck’s legs, then converted a penalty earned by substitute Alexis Sanchez.

Is it a coincidence that Inter only stepped up a gear and took the lead after Eriksen made way for Marcelo Brozovic?

“I think that for a lad who arrived five days ago, and let’s not forget we had to rush him in because we were missing several midfielders, Eriksen still made a positive impact,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

“Obviously, he needs to get settled into our style of football and also find the right fitness levels for a Serie A match, but I am very pleased with his full debut.

“Eriksen had certain tactical duties, off the ball and on it. I don’t want to reveal all our secrets! He will get to learn the positioning we ask of our midfielders, but these are early days and I am satisfied.

“It’s never easy with Udinese, they are a very physical side and created a lot of problems for us at San Siro too. We tried to take the initiative, they focused on defending and going on the counter-attack. It’s not the first time we have encountered that sort of situation, as opponents clam up and try to break at pace.

“Now we have a little more quality in the squad and will try to find other solutions to pick that lock. We went a little too deep at times, whereas I believe attack is the best form of defence.

“A side like Inter needs alternatives, because we’ve got Brozovic recovering from a very bad ankle sprain and Alexis Sanchez trying to get back in shape. Matias Vecino has my respect and consideration. He has regularly played with me.”

Lukaku not only scored both goals, but was also visibly a leader for Inter, including his pep talk for Sebastiano Esposito during the warm-up.

“Romelu has quality, this was not his best performance and he must do much better. The fact he scored two goals is important, but he can do more in other areas. He has settled in very well with the squad and I can only speak highly of him.

“I am very happy to have pushed so hard for him to arrive!”

Samir Handanovic did not play due to a hand injury, seemingly a splint to immobilise the little finger on his left hand, so can he be fit to face Milan?

“He had an injury, you’ll have to ask the doctor about the specifics. There are seven days before the derby, so the medical staff will try to get him recovered. Having said that, I was very happy with Daniele Padelli’s performance and he stepped up when we needed him.”

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