Adriano back in Mourinho's good books

ROME - Inter Milan striker Adriano is edging back into coach Jose Mourinho's good books and will get the chance to enhance his reputation when the Serie A leaders visit Atalanta in Bergamo on Sunday.

The powerful Brazilian has been at the centre of transfer speculation after irritating Mourinho with a perceived lack of commitment. He also missed the champions' first training session after the winter break.

However, Adriano worked hard and scored in Inter's 3-1 win over Genoa in the Italian Cup on Tuesday after a month out due to injury, earning himself some more time on the field this weekend.

"He'll certainly take part in the game," Mourinho was quoted as saying by Thursday's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I don't know yet if it'll be from the start. It depends on the quality and intensity (he shows) in the next training sessions. But we need Adriano so I'm particularly satisfied with the spirit he showed the other evening."

Adriano, once one of Serie A's most feared predators, has had a number of false dawns in recent seasons and was loaned out to Sao Paulo last year after exhausting the patience of former boss Roberto Mancini.

"I'm happy to have re-found Adriano and I think he can do a lot for Inter. Naturally, as long as he does not arrive late to training and has great commitment," Mourinho said.

The Portuguese coach also had his hands full with another forward, Mario Balotelli, who he threatened to leave on the sidelines this week after the 18-year-old's agent said he wanted to spend the rest of the season on loan at another club.

Mourinho will at least be able to count on the good form of Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has scored 11 league goals so far this season and was on target again against Genoa on Tuesday.

Midfielder Patrick Vieira will spend 10 days in France having treatment on an troublesome Achilles problem, the club said on their website.

Juventus, who took advantage of Inter's 1-1 draw with Cagliari to cut the lead to four points by beating Siena 1-0 last weekend, face seventh-placed Lazio in Rome on Sunday.

After making his Serie A debut in Sunday's 2-2 draw at AS Roma, loan signing David Beckham will be hoping to play his first game at the San Siro for third-placed AC Milan on Saturday against Fiorentina, who are joint-fifth with Genoa.

Milan, nine points behind Inter, will look to avoid being distracted by speculation about Brazil playmaker Kaka's future after chief executive Adriano Galliani confirmed he met with Manchester City officials this week.

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