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Let’s give Osimhen more time to fully recover – Gattuso

Napoli manager, Gennaro Gattuso has appealed to the fans of Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen to give him more time to recover and return to his 100 percent fitness and concentration to perform better on the field of play.

The Nigerian has never returned to shape since passing through much turbulent water and the coach still believes in him.

“It’s not easy to be at the top after 94 days off,” the Napoli boss said. “He’s still missing the sprint, his main skill, but he’s progressing gradually. He can do much more.”

read also:Coppa Italia: Osimhen fires blank as Atalanta beat Napoli to set up Juve final

In an attempt to draw positives from events in Bergamo, it wasn’t lost on anyone that it was the Nigeria striker’s first start for the club since returning from injury and recovering from coronavirus.

Osimhen had been eased back in after that Covid-19 enforced layoff, with 36 minutes against Genoa last weekend the longest he’d spent on the pitch until Wednesday.

The Azzurri were beaten 2-1 in that match, with Gattuso ruing preventable mistakes in defence and poor finishing in the final third as they fell to their seventh Serie A loss of 2020/21. Napoli’s number nine was culpable in the latter, somehow blazing over from around six yards out when hitting the target at least was the bare minimum.

The recent woes have ramped up the pressure on the club’s head coach, with several reports in Italy claiming defeats against Atalanta and Juventus will seal the 43-year-old’s fate in the job. They face the in-form Old Lady on Saturday and the AC Milan icon was coy on the subject after the cup exit in midweek.

“I don’t know, you have to ask the club,” the 43-year-old boss stated post-match. “The captain of the ship is me, when things go badly, they are at the expense of the captain. “I can’t think of this as the penultimate or last resort, I have to work and I have to be able to trust.

“I’m a coach, it’s like that. I won’t be the first, nor the last, but I have the duty to try until the end.”

That’s, more or less, the standard line from a manager under pressure but there’s a hint of something brewing in Naples, nonetheless. Gattuso’s comments after their 2-0 win over Parma on January 31 were in criticism of club president Aurelio De Laurentiis over the lack of protection he’d received since results turned in December.

Going by the form book, Juventus’ results have been near perfect since their 3-0 December thrashing by Fiorentina in Turin. Andrea Pirlo’s team have won every game in the league bar that 2-0 loss at Inter Milan, with performances on the whole generally impeccable.

The same can’t be said for Napoli, who have battled with absences to key players, Osimhen inclusive, mistakes at the back and profligate finishing as they’ve gone from Serie A contenders to top four hopefuls.

While the Nigerian has returned from his layoff, the sharpness still seems absent, although 79 minutes at Atalanta in midweek was encouraging.

Osimhen hasn’t thrived in front of goal since moving from Lille last summer; still, Gattuso will hope the stars align on Saturday in a clash many believe might have immediate ramifications for the under-fire Napoli boss.

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