Conte says 'some players can leave' Inter with focus on Eriksen following subdued game at Cagliari

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Antonio Conte has said “some players can leave” Inter Milan, with the spotlight once again on Christian Eriksen following a quiet display in the 3-1 win at Cagliari.

Denmark international Eriksen was handed a rare Serie A start by Conte, but he was withdrawn after 58 minutes with Inter trailing 1-0.

Conte’s changes paid off, as they rallied to claim three points and remain on the coat-tails of Serie A leaders and city rivals AC Milan.

Asked after the game about the performance of Eriksen, Conte refused to single the player out.

"I evaluate everyone's performance,” Conte said. “I don't like to speak about single players, the general performance was positive, for what we created and for our reaction against a difficult team to face.”

Later in his interview with DAZN, when asked about their title credentials, Conte said: “There are things to consider in an objective way, from outside you don’t see real things, both the directors and I knew all the difficulties we had at the beginning of the season.

“We knew there would not be optimal situations, we accepted and shared them, we knew there could be problems.

“We go ahead, hoping to improve something, some players can leave to have more game time. We may become less deep, but more functional.”

Inter's fourth straight Serie A win was the perfect riposte to the midweek 0-0 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League that left Inter eliminated from European competition.

In truth, three points was a fair result for a team that had 23 shots, 11 on target and almost 58 per cent of possession.

After the Shakhtar game, some in the Italian media accused Conte of having no plan B, something he was asked about following the Cagliari win.

"I joked about plan B, which, for every coach, is represented by substitutions," he said.

"Sometimes you have to make the team more offensive, sometimes more defensive. When you do it, you give more space to improvisation and anything can happen.

"As I always say, you must have all the players available to do it. Some of them may be injured, or not feeling well, or they may stay on the bench just to warm it.  

"Most times there are judgements from the outside and who stays inside can't say it all."

Conte Cagliari Inter Serie A

Conte wants to "raise the bar" for his Inter youngsters after Nicolo Barella sparked the late fightback.

Inter peppered the visitors' goal only to find home goalkeeper Alessio Cragno in inspired form and trailed to Riccardo Sottil's 42nd-minute effort at Sardegna Arena.

Former Cagliari midfielder Barella levelled in the 77th minute with a sublime volley and it was his corner from which Danilo D'Ambrosio put Inter ahead before Romelu Lukaku rounded out the comeback in injury-time.

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In total, Barella had two shots on target, finished with an assist, completed 50 of 61 passes for an 82 per cent success rate and put in seven crosses - two of which were "good crosses" as defined by Opta.

Conte said: "Barella is a young footballer with important qualities, he needs some self-discipline to control all the energy that he has. He was playing for Cagliari two years ago, he is improving now.

"These players can become top players, we need to work with them and try to raise the bar and make them become players who leave the mark. You only leave the mark by winning, not participating."