Inter Milan forward Diego Milito has ruled himself out of Sunday's Milan derby, saying he prefers not to take any risks and is instead focusing on coming back stronger than ever in January.
The Argentine forward has been sidelined with a muscular problem since mid-November, after a three-month absence due to a thigh strain.
He previously spent seven months out of action after tearing knee ligaments and, with such a history of malaise, he prefers to wait a few more weeks before making his return this time.
"I'm feeling good and I'm at the end of my recovery from injury, training with the team and reaching the levels that we all want for me to get back in action, but the idea is to return in January because there is still a slight risk and nobody wants me to hurt myself again," Milito told Mediaset television.
Without the hero of Inter's 2010 Champions League-winning campaign, Inter will nevertheless go into Sunday's derby in confident mood, keen on increasing their nine-point advantage over their city rivals.
"We want to win it -- we've got to win it," said Milito, who has seen his teammates draw three and lose one of their last four matches, a run of form which is also concerning goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
"We were doing well for the first five or six games, but we've taken a step back lately," Handanovic told the Gazzetta dello Sport. "We need more hunger, more aggression."
That is what club president Erick Thohir hopes to see on his next visit to the San Siro this Sunday. Inter have not won in the league since the Indonesian took the reins from Massimo Moratti, but there would be no better time to celebrate that first victory.
"This is one of the most important games of the year," Thohir said in Milan. "I can't wait for it to arrive. I'm going to be at the stadium and certainly it would be beautiful to win it, but we mustn't underestimate Milan because they also have a good side.
"I hope our coach and team arrive at the game well prepared. I know it won't be easy, but we've got to give it our best. Italian football is not easy, but I do think we're preparing well for the derby."