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The Nerazzurri boss is expecting that the star duo will make their respective returns from injury against the Rossoneri but the Brazilian is now struggling with an adductor strain

Inter coach Claudio Ranieri has declared that he expects to have both Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlan available for next weekend's derby showdown against AC Milan.

Dutch playmaker Sneijder has been out of action since suffering a muscular problem warming up for the November 11 clash with Cagliari, while Forlan suffered an ankle injury in training last week.

However, Ranieri, speaking after Saturday night’s 5-0 win over Parma, revealed that he is confident that both will return to first-team action against the Rossoneri.

"Will Sneijder and Forlan will be fit to play? I hope so,” the former Roma boss mused on the club’s official website.

“I have them ready in my mind. Now life will get better but more complicated because two great players are ready to make their comebacks.”

However, Maicon's participation in the derby is in jeopardy as the Brazilian full-back strained an adductor muscle in his right thigh against Parma and is now awaiting the results of further tests to determine the full extent of the injury.

Inter's victory was their fifth in succession in Serie A and drew them to within five points of leaders Milan, albeit having played one game more than their local rivals.

Consequently, the Nerazzurri faithful are now daring to dream of a most unlikely title challenge - but Ranieri is keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground.

"Winning the Scudetto?" he exclaimed. "No comment. We'll just keep on trying to do the best we can and we'll see.

"There are teams above us in the table who are shooting ahead and we'll have to do better if we want to catch them."

Ranieri, though, has been buoyed by his side's morale-boosting run of form and has been particularly enthused by the performances of winger Ricky Alvarez, who has been inconsistent at times so far this term.

"We've always maintained that Alvarez was good," the former Chelsea boss pointed out. "Now he takes on defenders ahead of him without passing back and his class is finally coming through."

Inter sit fifth in Serie A on 29 points, just one behind fourth-placed Lazio, who were routed 4-0 by Siena on Saturday night.

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