Conte expects derby emotions from Ibrahimovic
Antonio Conte predicted the Milan derby will stoke strong emotions for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and said he has "great respect" for the Rossoneri striker.
Milan are unbeaten in five Serie A games since Ibrahimovic arrived on a free transfer from LA Galaxy in January, the 38-year-old scoring once in the league and once in the Coppa Italia.
After missing Milan's 1-1 draw against Hellas Verona due to an illness, Ibrahimovic is expected to be available for selection on Sunday.
Stefano Pioli's men trail Inter by 19 points ahead of the Derby della Madonnina but Inter boss Conte said Ibrahimovic's uplifting effect on his team-mates would make for a better game at San Siro.
"I think it's nice to see all the players available in the most important games," Conte told reporters. "The spectacle benefits.
"He is a champion who gives Milan quality and charisma.
"I have great respect for Ibra, he is a former Inter player and I think that for him, in terms of emotions, it will be a strong game."
GOD has no religion pic.twitter.com/rZ9DG72Dsd— Zlatan Ibrahimovic (@Ibra_official) February 1, 2020
Conte was asked about the fitness of Samir Handanovic, after the Nerazzurri goalkeeper suffered a hairline fracture in his left hand, but gave little away.
"The medical staff can speak about specific situations - they are much more competent than I am," he replied.
He spoke more positively about Christian Eriksen's progress, the midfielder having played twice since joining Inter from Tottenham, in a 2-0 Serie A win at Udinese and a 2-1 Coppa Italia victory over Fiorentina.
Asked how long the 27-year-old needs to be 100 per cent fit, Conte said: "I hope not so much. He played part of the match against Fiorentina and started in Udine.
"He needs the right time to learn my ideas but he is a very intelligent boy. He quickly understands our game principles and I'm happy for that.
"Eriksen is a player who arrived at Inter with precise characteristics. We bought him for a certain way of playing.
"Let's not forget that in Italy there is much more tactical emphasis and more is asked than abroad. Often they are not very fixated on some situations: it is right that he has his time to get into his idea of the game."Published 08 Feb 2020, 20:50 IST