Mourinho: No red carpet for Eto'o
© AFP

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has warned Samuel Eto'o he will have to fight for his place after returning from Africa Cup of Nations duty.

Diego Milito, new arrival Goran Pandev and Mario Balotelli have made sure Cameroon talent Eto'o has not been missed over the last month and Mourinho has not called Eto'o up for the leaders' visit to Parma today.

The trio's efforts have helped champions Inter to stretch their lead over second-placed AC Milan, who have played one game fewer, to nine points, with Milito and Pandev scoring the goals in last week's 2-0 win over their city rivals.

Balotelli scored the last-gasp goal that took Inter into the Italian Cup semi-finals with a 2-1 win over Juventus on Thursday.

And Mourinho warned Saturday: "There will be no red carpet waiting for Eto'o. That might have happened with someone else, but not with me.

There will be no red carpet waiting for Eto'o. That might have happened with someone else, but not with me.
Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho

"Samuel has to get back to 100 per cent and that's why, if he has not recovered from all the fatigue of the (Africa Cup of Nations), it's better to wait because it is very hard to start up front for Inter at the moment."

Eto'o did not train with his team-mates on Saturday, but had physiotherapy on a knock to his right foot that he suffered at the Africa Cup of Nations, the club reported.

Mourinho said he expects the visit to 12th-placed Parma to be especially tough, partly because of the team's recent exertions in beating Milan and Juventus, and partly because of Parma's "cunning" coach, Francesco Guidolin.

"It'll be a difficult match," said the Portuguese. "Guidolin is cunning, in the good sense of the word. He knows how to play with the players he has. Sometimes he adapts to the opposition, sometimes he changes formation, but he also knows how to build a team capable of playing (good football)."