Inter Miami

Phil Neville: Gonzalo Higuain must fight to regain Inter Miami starting spot

Chris Smith
Inter Miami have won all three games with Higuain injured.
Inter Miami have won all three games with Higuain injured. / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

With Leonardo Campana in red-hot form, Gonzalo Higuain must 'fight' to regain his starting spot up-front for Inter Miami. That is the word used by head coach Phil Neville.

On-loan Campana has stepped up brilliantly in the absence of the injured Higuain, scoring a hat-trick in the 3-2 victory over the New England Revolution before pre-assisting the winner against Seattle Sounders, and netting the only goal of the game on Tuesday in the Cup against Miami FC.

Higuain is back in training ahead of the visit of Atlanta United this Sunday. But Neville is by no means willing to allow the DP striker - the third-highest paid player in Major League Soccer - to simply walk back into the starting XI. In fact, Neville has noticed a difference in Higuain's training intensity as he battles to put Campana back on the bench.

“You can see with the intensity that Gonzalo’s trained this week, he knows he’s got a fight on his hands to get back in the team, because he sees someone scoring goals,” Neville said. "That inspires him because he’s always been looking for someone to shoulder the responsibility with him.

"I think what the team has proven in the last three games is that they can win without Gonzalo. So now there’s less pressure on him to come back in the team, there’s less focus on him and we can see him produce his best performances.”

Regardless of Higuain's experience and quality, it'd be a huge gamble to drop Campana now, not to mention devastating to the Ecuadorian's form and confidence. Neville is well aware of the importance of momentum to strikers.

“I think Campana at the moment is almost undroppable with his form and when goalscorers get on these runs you just let them fly, you don’t take them out of the action,” he said of the 21-year-old. “That is a brilliant problem for us to have up front.”

After a disastrous start to the season, Inter Miami have won their last three games across all competitions. They've never won four in a row and will be looking to complete that little piece of history against Atlanta United on Sunday.

Neville noted: “Sunday could be a first for us in terms of this franchise has never won four games on the run, so there’s a lot of challenges and aims in front of us."