Luciano Spalletti spoke in his pre-match press conference ahead of the visit to Inter on Wednesday about getting back into the swing of league action following the break for the World Cup.

“We’re ready to get started again. Our heads have never switched off. A very demanding but also exciting period lies ahead and it could well be fundamental and have an enduring impact on the players’ careers.”

How was the winter break for you?

“We’ve been working hard during the winter break while tailoring the training workload to those who stayed here and those who came back from the World Cup.

"It's not a restart for us because our heads are in the same place as where they were before. We’re carrying on from where we left off and where we started from five months ago. We all embarked on this wonderful journey when I arrived in Naples a year and a half ago. We'll only stop when we know how it's all gone. Only then will there be a break for us.”

Do you fear external forces may affect your pathway? There’s been all sorts of controversy raging through the football world over the last few months.

“I feel that every system can always be improved. Credibility needs to be at the forefront in football, so we need to work hard and extremely carefully while keeping an eye on everyone’s behaviour to reduce the scope for doubt.

“We need to focus on the task at hand and channel the support from our fans to make the people who love us feel happy. We also need to turn in great performances. There’s no other option. Of course, we all need to conduct ourselves appropriately.”

Is Amir Rrahmani back and available?

“It’s been a tough spell for Amir so we’ll need to see how his general condition is when he plays. His return has been gradual and he’s taken it step by step. We’re confident but in this case, we need to assess the outcome after he gets out there on the pitch.”

Does the lead in the table give you more confidence than at the start of the season?

“We aren’t heading into this game and the ones afterwards with any thoughts about our position in the table or any statistics linked to being unbeaten. We’re fully aware of what we're capable of on the pitch. Our style of play is key because when you analyse tomorrow’s game and the journey that awaits us, what we’ve done so far isn’t enough and what really matters is what we do from tomorrow onwards.”

How did it feel to be with the team during the break?

“I had the right sorts of feelings. I like being under the pressure that exists in my head and from doing this job. I’m happy because when you’re at the top level and the expectations of top performances are there, I expect a suitable response from my players. We’ll play our football, which so many people have enjoyed and which showcases my players’ qualities.”

What sort of Inter side do you expect to face?

“Inter are a top European side. They’ve made serious investment in recent years and have a very strong squad. They know how to keep it tight and also how to use the pitch both in terms of width and getting in behind. They have [Romelu] Lukaku coming back as part of an already strong attack with [Edin] Dezko and Lautaro [Martinez] who I know well.

“They have real physicality and plenty of options in terms of their system, enabling them to change the game by altering their build-up play. We’ll have to strike the right balance to control the match. I think that’ll be key for us.”

How are the players who went to the World Cup doing physically?

“They’re all fine. Some are in very good shape, others are in good shape, but they’re all available and looking forward to this huge game. We’ve known for a long time how big the match on 4 January would be and we’re ready for it.

“We’re heading into an exciting and thrilling part of our journey. You only become great by getting your approach right in the big games. We have to be stronger than all the rest, all the prejudice, scepticism and also the fear among those who love us. We know there’s a whole city behind us. We have to play for the pride and happiness of Naples."

Can you feel the rising expectations and the desire in the city?

"I’m with all of you and I’ll contribute however I can. My real dream is to see this city go wild with joy. I know that everyone is talking about the Scudetto, but my real ‘obsession’ isn’t winning it for myself, but to see the Neapolitans explode with joy.”

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