Sweden coach Erik Hamren has denied the constant speculation surrounding the future of star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had a destabilising effect on his side at Euro 2016.
The Swedes were poor for the first 50 minutes of Monday’s Group E opener against the Republic of Ireland before a second-half resurgence resulted in Ibrahimovic crossing for Ciaran Clark to nod into his own net to earn a point for Hamren’s men.
Ibrahimovic has confirmed he will leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires at the end of the month but has yet to reveal his next destination.
That has led to daily speculation, with Manchester United heavily linked, but Hamren insists it has not been a topic of discussion in the Sweden camp ahead of Friday’s game with Italy.
“No, it’s nothing that bothers us,” said Hamren. “We are used to it. Players play for club teams and international teams. There are a lot of rumours going round and, obviously, with a big player like Ibrahimovic there are going to be a lot of rumours.
“It doesn’t affect us at all. I haven’t felt anything destructive, we are used to it, that’s football.”
Antonio Conte’s Italy produced a fine display in their 2-0 defeat of Belgium and Hamren is expecting a tough test in Toulouse.
“Italy are a team that have impressed me,” he added. “They perhaps don’t have the big stars they used to but they have a strong team nonetheless. They are really organised, very good defensively and offensively. They were very good against Belgium.
“It’s a big challenge but we are looking forward to it.
“We have to be effective. We probably won’t have that many chances so we have to take the ones that we get. We have to be patient and expect Italy to have the majority of possession, be calm and use our heads.
“A switch in play, or set-pieces, they will be our best chances of scoring on Friday.”
Hamren confirmed Celtic full-back Mikael Lustig is unlikely to play any further part in the group stage due to an injury he suffered against the Republic of Ireland.
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