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Napoli v Real Madrid

Sarri expects Mertens to be fit for Real Madrid clash

22:06 SAST 2017/03/06
Mertens - Cropped
Fears over the Belgium international's fitness have been calmed ahead of a huge clash in the last 16 of the Champions League

Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri is hopeful star forward Dries Mertens will be passed fit to play against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Mertens scored twice in Saturday's impressive 2-1 Serie A win at title rivals Roma, taking his tally for an impressive season to 22 in all competitions.

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The Belgium international had to be replaced for the final 16 minutes at Stadio Olimpico after grabbing his ankle, but Sarri thinks the problem was only muscle cramps, although he will not know for sure until the players have been assessed.

"Mertens is fine - I think there was only a suggestion of cramps, but we will assess him better [before the game] along with the rest of the squad," the Napoli head coach said at his pre-match media conference.

Sarri is unhappy with the busy run of fixtures his side have had around a crucial Champions League last-16 tie, which they trail 3-1 from the away leg.

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He continued: "I don't want controversy, but the calendar certainly has not helped us. I have never seen so many important matches pushed together.

"Certainly, from this point of view, it could be better. You know who makes the Champions League and some things were not taken into account in the calendar to protect Italian teams in Europe."

Napoli have slipped 10 points off the pace in the Serie A title race and also have work to do in a Coppa Italia semi-final with Juventus.