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'If you don't find it convincing, that's your problem' - Spalletti insists Icardi absense due to injury

05:08 GMT+4 02/03/2019
Luciano Spalletti
Following a disappointing away loss to Cagliari, the coach blasted his players as well as criticising the talk surrounding the Inter striker

Luciano Spalletti has claimed Mauro Icardi is injured, and crticised the speculation and questions over his return, comparing the striker to another sidelined Inter player, Keita Balde Diao.

Icardi was absent once more on Friday as Inter fell at Cagliari to a 2-1 defeat, which followed a controversial 3-3 draw at Fiorentina last time out.

But questions after the match, like those before, were focused on Icardi, who has not featured since February 9 for Inter and was replaced as club captain by Samir Handanovic.

In a pre-match interview, Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta denied a "split" with Icardi but there has been speculation in the media over the severity of the Argentina international's supposed injury.

Spalletti himself said he no longer wished to discuss the Icardi matter Thursday, adding he would focus solely on those who "care about the fate of Inter".

Icardi also spoke out on Thursday, declaring his love for Inter and the sacrifices he'd made for the club over the years in a post on Instagram.

And asked about Icardi again following the match, Spalletti insisted injury was the cause of the striker's absence and questioned why the media is reading more into it.

"Why do you put the questions over Icardi and Keita differently?" Spalletti told Sky Sport Italia.

"Why do you ask about how long it will take Keita to recover, but phrase it differently for Icardi's absence? They are both injured and now have a couple of days to finish their treatment.

"You are suggesting there's something wrong in his behaviour, otherwise you would treat both situations the same way.

"If you don't find it convincing, that's your problem."

Cagliari captain Luca Ceppitelli's opener put Inter down and although Lautaro Martinez's header cancelled out that strike, Leonardo Pavoletti's superb volley won the points for Rolando Maran's side.

With Inter opening the door to Roma and AC Milan in the race for Champions League qualification, Spalletti was left annoyed by the Nerazzurri's display in the opening 45 minutes and did not hold back his criticism, calling the performance "terrible".

"Let's not get into details. Inter were terrible in the first half," Spalletti said.

"We were slow in our decision-making, we hesitated, moved the ball too slowly, were not prepared to pounce where the ball fell. We didn't win enough individual duels and didn't do enough.

"Cagliari scored very good goals and created them by running in front of the defender so they could anticipate the cross. We have these capabilities too, but we didn't make the most of them. It also looks as if on the Luca Ceppitelli goal there was a deflection off Ivan Perisic."