Gennaro Gattuso has called for focus from AC Milan as it approaches a winnable run of games in the battle for a top-four place in Serie A.
After tough encounters with Roma and Napoli in recent weeks, four of Milan's next five league fixtures are against teams in the bottom half of the table before the derby with Inter on March 17.
The only seemingly difficult clash looks to be against Atalanta next weekend, but Milan has a chance to put itself in contention for a Champions League spot by stringing together a run of victories.
However, Gattuso knows these are the kind of matches they have struggled with in the past - and has warned his players not to let their standards slip.
Rest is paramount
"For the last six or seven years, Milan have reached the spring and not even been in the running for a Champions League spot," he told a media conference ahead of Sunday's clash with Cagliari at San Siro.
"We must take it one game at a time, but be in a strong position to go for it.
"Our next few fixtures might seem easy on paper, but there is nothing easy in Serie A and this'll tell us if we've matured. We must face every game with concentration and desire, that’s the secret. I want to see a Milan side that doesn’t allow the opposition to attack. I’d happily win every match 1-0.
"For sure our players need some rest, sometimes it is even more important to have that break. When we meet those teams who have less games than us we tend to struggle. The game against Cagliari will not be easy."
'Not bowing under pressure'
Gattuso has faced criticism for continuing to persist with Hakan Calhanoglu, yet he will not bow to pressure regarding the midfielder's selection.
"I will not speak badly about my players. I don’t throw my players out to sea," Gattuso responded when asked about Calhanoglu.
"Hakan knows he can do much more, but his performances haven't been total disasters. I read someone claim the squad rebelled because he always plays, but I've seen nothing of the sort."
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