Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini has hailed Ukraine midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi's contributions to the club in recent weeks, amid the ongoing crisis unfolding back in the latter's home country.
The Ukraine international has been a key performer for the Serie A side so far this term, but has found himself thrust into the spotlight for different reasons following Russia's invasion of his home country.
Malinovskyi netted in last week's Europa League last-16 clash with Bayer Leverkusen, in which La Dea prevailed 3-2, and is expected to figure in Thursday's reverse encounter in Germany.
Speaking ahead of the trip, Gasperini offered praise for how the midfielder has responded, including a poignant gesture where he kissed a black armband in the first leg in Bergamo after scoring.
"To tell the truth, Ruslan has had a really important season, and this one has been a bit more troubled," the head coach told his pre-match news conference.
"Now he has moments in which he is in the best situation, he becomes decisive. In addition, we realise the emotional moment he is going through.
присвячується усім жертвам війни в Україні.. pic.twitter.com/IxnGJZ4pBE— Ruslan Malinovskyi (@malinovskyi18) March 10, 2022
"When he manages to clean up his game, with the shot that he has, it will become important. He is a player that we have adapted to that role, he often becomes decisive.
"We hope that in the end, he is as good as possible, because we need him."
Elsewhere, Gasperini revealed that Duvan Zapata is nearing a comeback from injury, with the coach adding that he hopes to have the Colombia star back on hand as early as next month.
"He is recovering well, we hope his return is close," he added. "We will see in April, we hope it is plausible. He will have to get to match sharpness, but he is training well individually and in the gym."
Atalanta face Leverkusen on Thursday, before they wrap up their March commitments with a trip to Bologna in Serie A before the international break brings a halt to club football.