Serie A Preview: Inter v Udinese

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Inter host Udinese in Serie A on Saturday with midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic enjoying renewed optimism over their top-three hopes.

Roberto Mancini suffered his first defeat since returning as Inter head coach last weekend in a 4-2 setback to Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

There were plenty of positives for the Milanese side in that fixture, though, as goals from Andrea Ranocchia and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo twice restored parity after they fell behind.

Inter's inconsistent form this season has left them in 11th place after 13 matches, but just six points separate them from third-place Napoli and a UEFA Champions League spot.

And Kuzmanovic feels the confidence is returning to the squad.

"There is a feeling that we can fight for third place," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "In Rome we have shown we play against anyone, because we went to their stadium and we scored two goals, twice recovering the disadvantage. 

"We showed character and, with less naivety at 2-2, we would have obtained a positive result. 

"This gives me a lot of confidence and as long as the math does not condemn us, I will fight for third place."

Mancini, who led Inter to three straight Serie A titles in his first spell at San Siro before being sacked in 2008, takes charge in his first official home league match since returning to replace Walter Mazzarri last month.

The former Manchester City boss' second coaching bow started on home turf in the Milan derby, but that fixture - which finished 1-1 - was a designated home match for Milan.

Another familiar face for Inter fans will be in the dugout with former boss Andrea Stramaccioni now in charge of opponents Udinese.

The 38-year-old coached Inter in the 2012-13 campaign after a successful temporary spell in the term before, but he paid the price for a dismal season in which the club finished ninth.

Despite his short tenure, Stramaccioni - whose team are seeking to address a five-match winless league run - admitted he still has a strong affinity for Inter.

""They are one of the most loved clubs in Italy and I can't deny that a little piece of my heart is still in Milan," he said. 

"We are going to San Siro with our heads high. It will be a difficult match because Inter are starting to play better."

Udinese, who sit two spots and one point above Inter in the table, remain without defender Maurizio Domizzi and forward Luis Muriel (both thigh), but Silvan Widmer and Gabriel Silva could come back into contention after injury.

Inter still have concerns over midfielder Hernanes (adductor) and full-back Yuto Nagatomo (shoulder).