Simone Inzaghi admits Romelu Lukaku's recovery will take some time but the Inter boss still feels his side can "make a difference" without their forward when they face Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.
The two local rivals meet at San Siro this weekend for the first time since the Nerazzurri defeated Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals last term.
However, the Rossoneri prevailed in the pair's battle for the Serie A title, with Inter missing the pinpoint power of forward Lukaku following his move to Chelsea.
An underwhelming season back in the Premier League led to the Belgian's return to Inter on loan, but a thigh injury means he will miss their biggest match of the season to date.
Inzaghi insists his team will cope without Lukaku, saying at his pre-match press conference: "The hope is for [Lukaku] to recover before the international break. It will take some time, but the medical staff is working on his recovery. We must prepare for these eventualities.
Inzaghi discussed his various selection dilemmas for the derby, with centre-back Alessandro Bastoni missing the midweek 3-1 win against Cremonese with a fever.
"He was not 100 per cent already before the Cremonese game with a fever, and in these two days he still was not well," he said. "I will decide as soon as I get him back in the group in training, as well as for the attack where I can choose between three players and figure out who to support Lautaro [Martinez].
"On Tuesday, [Joaquin] Correa did very well and scored, [Edin] Dzeko did a great job.
"I also have to choose in the wide positions. [Robin] Gosens has been stationary for six months. Right now I'm preferring to let him enter the race. In the derby I will decide between him, [Federico] Dimarco and [Matteo] Darmian."
The former Lazio boss understands what the game means, both locally and in the wider title picture, and called on his players to show "nastiness and determination" on Saturday.
"Last year, we played many derbies and the last one allowed us to win a trophy," he said. "A derby is loaded on its own - two strong teams face each other and the matches are balanced, decided by individual episodes.
"We need to make a difference. We know it's an important match. It needs to be a tour-de-force between now and November - it will take nastiness and determination."