(Reuters) - Stefano Pioli says AC Milan have reached a decisive moment in the Serie A season ahead of their league game against Udinese and has faith that his side can cope in the absence of injured striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The 39-year-old Swede, who is Milan's top scorer with 14 goals in 14 league games this season, was forced off during Sunday's 2-1 win over AS Roma with a muscular problem.
He is expected to miss at least 10 days, during which time he will be a guest at the Sanremo music festival throughout this week.
But Pioli is remaining calm after leading his side to five wins in eight games during the striker's absence earlier this season.
"Zlatan is our champion, but we did well on Sunday night, and we have individual quality," the coach told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's game.
"The fact that the team has done well without him shows that we have quality."
The weekend victory in Rome marked a return to form for Milan, who were on a four-match winless run in all competitions heading into the game.
That run included back-to-back league defeats by Spezia and Inter, which meant Pioli's side fell four points behind their rivals in second place in the standings.
"We have the chance to show that those two weeks were the unusual thing," Pioli said.
"It was a surprise, but a dip can happen when you play that often.
"Now we must show that we are still that extraordinary team. We're not thinking about the past anymore, what we manage to do from now onwards will be decisive.
"This is a decisive moment in the season, we're staying focused and trying to get the most out of it. Then we'll see what position we're in."
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Christian Radnedge)