AC MILAN captain Riccardo Montolivo and fellow midfielder Andrea Poli have joined an ever-increasing injury list ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League game against Celtic.
The Rossoneri, who welcome the Scottish champions to the San Siro for the Group H clash in midweek before hosting Serie A rivals Napoli on Sunday, were already missing Giampaolo Pazzini, Stephan El Shaarawy, Ignazio Abate, Daniele Bonera, Matias Silvestre and Mattia De Sciglio.
Playmaker Montolivo was withdrawn just before half-time in Saturday night’s 2-2 draw at Torino, while his replacement Poli sustained a heavy knock in the challenge by Giovanni Pasquale that conceded a late point-saving penalty – with Italy striker Mario Balotelli doing the honours.
A statement published on Milan’s official website last night confirmed a lesion to the femoral bicep of Montolivo’s left thigh while Poli was diagnosed with a bruise to his right leg.
Montolivo will undergo further medical tests to determine the length of his absence but Poli, who left Sampdoria in the summer, is expected to return to contention after a week’s rehabilitation.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has few worries by comparison. New signing Steven Mouyokolo is out for six months after rupturing an Achilles tendon in training last week but, otherwise, Lennon may have a full squad from which to select for Wednesday’s glamour tie.
That could include James Forrest, who sat out Saturday’s SPFL Premiership win over Hearts and has had continuing trouble with his sciatic nerve, and Adam Matthews, who was taken off injured towards the end of the first half in the 3-1 win at Tynecastle. “Adam’s fine, he’s just jarred his ankle,” Lennon said.
“He couldn’t continue, but we’re hoping he’ll be okay for Wednesday. It’s just a twist.”
Besides those immediate concerns, Lennon is encouraged by the form and fitness of his captain, Scott Brown, for whom last season was punctuated by injury. “He’s injury-free,” said the manager.
“To have a fit Scott Brown, which we didn’t have last year for the Champions League, is going to make us better.
“If we have a fit James Forrest, if we can have him fit and flying, that will make us better as well. Jamesie, with the sciatic problem, we’re hoping he’ll be okay to travel, and be fit and available.”
Nir Biton, Celtic’s newly signed Israeli international, will travel to Milan but is unlikely to play a part in the match. “He’s not trained, but we’ll get a look at him on Tuesday and see what sort of condition he’s in,” Lennon added. “I don’t think he played any football when he was away with Israel, so it might just be too soon for him.”