Inter can be great without Icardi – Pioli

The skipper was suspended for the clash with Empoli, and the coach was pleased to see his side win comfortably in his absence

Inter coach Stefano Pioli said his side’s 2-0 victory over Empoli without Mauro Icardi underlined the strength in depth at the club.

Captain Icardi was suspended for the game after kicking the ball in the direction of referee Nicola Rizzoli during Inter’s controversial 1-0 defeat at Juventus a week earlier, while Ivan Perisic was also banned having been sent off in that match.
Ox: We don’t worry about history
Goals from Eder and Antonio Candreva ensured Inter did not miss either of them, and Pioli praised the performance of his depleted side.

“Icardi is a great player and I cannot wait to have him back, but that’s only him. There is a team that has shown it can grow and be able to get to a great level,” he told Mediaset Premium.

“Juventus-Inter is behind us, and we have demonstrated this by working with care and serenity.
“We must try to motivate ourselves, stay in touch with our ambitions and take the appropriate chances. The opponent was not easy and we had a good game. We reacted and I’m happy.”

Pioli used the game to give a Serie A debut to 17-year-old striker Andrea Pinamonti in the final 10 minutes, but the Inter coach reserved praise for midfielder Roberto Gagliardini, who twice went close to opening his account for the club.

He said: “Gagliardini has all the potential to become a leader.

“Everyone sees the simplicity and calmness with which he has made a positive contribution.

WATCH: Pogba hits the bullseye

“We set ourselves goals every week to make our work stimulating and positive. We know it will be very difficult but we must continue to think about winning every game or give up, so we’re becoming a competitive team.”

When asked how Inter’s season might be looking had he been in charge from the start, Pioli said: “I don’t happen to think much about this, just to the future and not to the past. It’s too important to build something for this great club and the fans.

“We are only focused on what we can control and our performance.”