Gennaro Gattuso confirms Kalidou Koulibaly “will start” against Lecce after seven weeks out, but Napoli “have everything to lose” in this game.
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“Koulibaly will certainly start tomorrow and I can only hope for the best,” said the coach in his press conference.
The Senegal international has been out of action with a thigh strain since December 15 and was back in the squad, albeit only on the bench, in last week’s 4-2 win away to Sampdoria.
“Fabian Ruiz was ill for 10 days and didn’t train much, so he won’t play tomorrow, while Allan is trying to get his fitness levels back on track.”
Napoli have been reborn in recent weeks, but Gattuso fears a slip-up is right around the corner.
“We walk into a trap tomorrow, because if we don’t take the same approach we had against Lazio and Juventus, then it’s going to be very, very difficult for us. We must prepare the game mentally, with determination and not underestimating anybody. We have it all to lose.
“Don’t forget our defeat to Fiorentina wasn’t that long ago and that was rock bottom, truly embarrassing. We’ve sparked the enthusiasm back in the city and that is a step forward. Now we must strike while the iron’s hot, taking it one game at a time.
“In order to play our football and create passing lines, we first have to move off the ball. Decisions must be made as a team, not just flinging the ball in there and hoping for the best.
“I am pleased with what we’re doing so far in training and we changed a few physical elements too, so I hope that enthusiasm keeps growing.
“It’s important that we learn to throw ourselves into the mix, try not to lose the ball, and if you do, then go straight back there to win it back. We’re not always consistent enough and need 60, 70, 80 minutes of high intensity.”
Lecce are a tough side to play against and are fresh from their 4-0 hammering of Torino.
“Fabio Liverani is a fine coach and was already enacting a miracle at Ternana,” continued Gattuso.
“He knows football inside out and makes his teams play good football, taking a positive approach in any stadium. Liverani deserves credit for that.
“It’s a plain fact that we cannot underestimate Lecce. We must respect them, as tomorrow is worth more than three points."
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