Inter manager Antonio Conte has said he is not 'demented' in his decision to continually leave Alexis Sanchez on the bench, saying the Chilean's ongoing fitness issues are the reason behind his absence from the team.

Injury has ravaged Sanchez's time in Italy so far, as he managed just four appearances before a foot injury sidelined him until after the turn of the new year.

In his absence, ​Inter have soared in ​Serie A, emerging as a genuine challenger to Juventus, even topping the table over the winter break before ​dropping points against Atalanta on Saturday.

With things going so well and the duo of ​Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez striking up a formidable partnership, it's understandable that Sanchez's return for ​Inter hasn't been rushed - despite him having been fit enough to make the bench in the last two matches. 

It seems the Italian press have been impatient, however, as ​ESPN report that Conte was pressed on why Sanchez is yet to make his return to the pitch. And while the manager didn't mull on the issue for too long, he did explain that it was a simple fitness issue, and suggested those drawing other conclusions from the situation are missing the mark.

"To play players, they need to be in shape, otherwise it's insane," Conte said. "Either I'd be an idiot or I'd want to hurt myself.

Alexis Sanchez

"If you add one plus one, you get two, if then you want to get to five. If I don't bring a player on, it's not because I'm demented."

A potential return for Sanchez could come when Inter's Coppa Italia campaign gets underway against Cagliari on Tuesday, with one of Lukaku or Martinez likely to be rested ahead of Sunday's trip to Lecce. 

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