Inter's Conte expects different kind of derby as title rivals clash

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FILE PHOTO: Serie A - Inter Milan v Lazio

MILAN (Reuters) - Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte said Sunday's top-of-the-table Milan derby in Serie A will be different to recent encounters between the city rivals given what is at stake this time.

Inter lead Milan by a point heading into the game at San Siro with this season's title race the most exciting in years.

This is the first time Inter have been top in the second half of the campaign since May 2010, the last season in which they won the Scudetto, and Conte knows how important the derby is as his side look to end their title drought.

"This will be a different derby compared to the derbies of past years because it concerns who will be top of the rankings," Conte told a news conference on Saturday.

"We are paired, first and second, and I think Milan is in a great place right now. They have improved a lot, and beating them now will mean even more.

"We still need a lot of work and organisation. We need to play well to get the win."

Christian Eriksen has played a more prominent role for Inter in the last month, having previosuly been on the periphery of the first team since signing for the club in January 2020.

Conte said Denmark midfielder Eriksen was in contention to start on Sunday but he had yet to decide on his selection.

"I don't know if he (Eriksen) will play," Conte added. "I still have three doubts for tomorrow.

"Christian is improving, now we have had more time to work with him since the Christmas break. He has made progress and has become important to us."

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris)