Atletico need in-form Kalinic - Simeone
Nikola Kalinic appears to have found his feet at Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone needs him in top form.
After scoring his first goal since joining from AC Milan in August in the 4-0 Copa del Rey win over Sant Andreu on Wednesday, Kalinic doubled his tally with the opener as Atletico defeated Deportivo Alaves 3-0 on Saturday.
The Croatian's strike was added to by Antoine Griezmann and Rodrigo inside the final 10 minutes, making the scoreline deceptively flattering after Alaves piled on the pressure in the second period.
Simeone has been pleased by Kalinic's recent displays and emphasised his importance to the team with Diego Costa expected to be out for two months following foot surgery.
"He's been working for a long time. He's coming off the back of a difficult year in Milan. He's looking for his place in the team, we've talked about it," the Atletico coach told beIN SPORTS.
"I have no commitment to anyone, I let myself be led by what I believe, by what I feel and the sensations the players transmit.
"He did well against Sant Andreu and he did well again and that makes us happy because we need him."
Simeone added in his news conference: "He is taking advantage of his chances and contributing more than goals.
"He knows I have no commitment to anyone and is growing mainly due to his involvement."
Saul Niguez started at left-back with three of Simeone's first-choice defenders out through injury.
Although Filipe Luis and Diego Godin are nearing returns, the club confirmed Lucas Hernandez sustained a grade two medial collateral ligament sprain in his right knee after Jonathan Calleri landed on his leg in the first half.