Eto'o to play central role
Inter Milan coach Rafael Benitez said today that he will play Cameroon forward Samuel Eto'o through the middle in tomorrow's trip to Cagliari.
Eto'o is the joint-top scorer in Serie A this season and has bagged 11 goals in ten games in all competitions.
Having spent most of his time at Inter on the left of a three-pronged attack, he has flourished while Diego Milito has been injured, netting a hat-trick from a central role in the 4-0 UEFA Champions League demolition of Werder Bremen. And with Milito again out injured, Eto'o is due another run-out in the middle.
"He'll be happy. It's difficult to lose a player like Milito but Samuel is in great form and can do well," said Benitez, who played down the club's injury problems. "Three players came back from international duty injured but it's a situation that many clubs in Europe face," he said.
"Look at what Barcelona and Bayern Munich are saying, it's a clear discussion. The international matches change everything. It's difficult to manage the breaks but now it can be easier to work with everyone together.
"The calendar is the key to this situation, it makes a difference. Now we have the Champions League coming up in midweek but we can still work. And with all our players available we can improve."
Benitez denied that there was any relation between his training methods and the number of injuries at the club. "Two years ago, when [former coach Jose] Mourinho arrived here following the European Championship, he had 50 injuries, 37 of those muscle problems," said the Spaniard. "It's normal after a match that some players have some problems following preparation conditioned for big events."
Although Milito, Esteban Cambiasso, McDonald Mariga and Walter Samuel are all definitely out, Benitez is hopeful that captain Javier Zanetti and one of Goran Pandev and Thiago Motta will be fit. "I don't yet know if both [Pandev and Motta] will be 100 per cent fit but I think there's a good chance of having at least one of them," he said. "Zanetti will undergo some tests following [Saturday's] training session."
Looking ahead to Sunday's match, Benitez knows that Cagliari are never an easy team to play in Sardinia, but he's not expecting the early start time to cause any problems.
"It will be a tough match, the Sardinians are playing well at the moment and they have confidence in their own abilities," he said. "But we're ready and prepared to do well, to win this game and then think about the next ones. You have to work in a slightly different way [for the early kick-off] but this won't have an effect on the match."