Injuries thwarting progress of Milan starlets

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesA left knee injury has Milan's Mattia De Sciglio out until late October.

Prior to the season starting, much of the excitement surrounding Milan was focused on the development of two players in particular: Mattia De Sciglio and Riccardo Saponara. While De Sciglio is expected to continue to mature into one of the best full-backs in Italy, there has also been a great deal of enthusiasm about the talent that Saponara possesses. However, with the Serie A season underway, we have yet to see either in action.

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With news on Monday afternoon that De Sciglio would be undergoing surgery in the next few days due to a meniscus problem in his left knee, it is unlikely that Massimiliano Allegri will have him available for selection until the end of October at the earliest.

It will come as a huge blow for the 20-year-old who has only improved since being given regular playing time for both club and country in the past year.

Meanwhile, Saponara has struggled with injury troubles of his own, and despite reportedly nearing a recovery, it is unclear as to how often he will feature given the arrival of Kaka.

With the Brazilian returning, and being handed the captain's armband for the friendly win over Chiasso on the weekend, it should be the perfect opportunity for Saponara to learn and improve both on and off the pitch with direct help from his idol.

However, it will be vital that he is given regular playing time in order to avoid further stunting his progress.

For most players, a healthy pre-season schedule is the catalyst for a great season, but not only has injury thwarted both De Sciglio and Saponara from featuring in the opening games of the season, it has, in all probability, set them both back a month or two before they are fully fit and ready to feature.

It is a frustrating process for the players, club and supporters, who were all undoubtedly eager to see two of the Rossoneri's most promising young talents in action, but the wait looks set to go on.

The injury woes have not stopped there either, with Ignazio Abate also ruled out for between 8-10 days ahead of further tests. It presents a real selection headache for Allegri with the domestic campaign resuming this weekend, while the Champions League group stages are set to start next week, too.

Much of the criticism directed at the club over the summer concerned their decision not to strengthen the central pairing in defence. With arguably the best two components of the backline now facing time on the sidelines, it leaves the Rossoneri looking vulnerable at the back.

Does it further reinforce the point that the defence should have been made a priority this summer? Potentially, yes. Nevertheless, Allegri must now work with what he has at his disposal, which is likely to see Urby Emanuelson and Cristian Zaccardo fill in on their respective flanks.

It is both frustrating and disappointing to see De Sciglio ruled out, and while the immediate concern will be to ultimately look ahead to Milan's schedule in his absence, it is important that the surgery is a success in order for one of the club's top prospects to return with a clean bill of health.

Do Milan have sufficient depth in order to cope with the injuries in defence? What kind of impact can we expect from Saponara upon his return?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty


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