Injury-ravaged Milan host Celtic

Posted by Sumeet Paul

When a team is weakened by a few injuries ahead of a significant game, some can use it as an excuse for the subsequent disappoint. However, when there is a potential starting eleven plus substitutes who are sidelined, then the case becomes a little more serious.

That's the situation that Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri faces over the next week, with Celtic visiting San Siro on Wednesday night to take on a depleted squad.

Saturday's draw with Torino undoubtedly came at a cost with Riccardo Montolivo, Andrea Poli and Kaka now looking for space in the treatment room at Milanello.

The midfield trio join the likes of Ignazio Abate, Mattia De Sciglio, Riccardo Saponara and Stephan El Shaarawy on the injury list, along with several other team-mates. While Poli makes the squad, he is unlikely to feature while four youth team players also get a call-up.

Kaka made the headlines this week with his gesture of refusing to accept his wages while recovering, but it doesn't hide the fact that the Rossoneri are struggling. Nevertheless, his response to his injury isn't without merit as he will potentially save the club around 300,000 euros over the next month.

- Report: Milan left with 13 players to face Celtic
- Report: Kaka gesture lauded by Milan chief

Despite battling back from a two goal deficit to claim a point in Turin, there were various aspects of the performance on Saturday that would have ensured there is cause for concern ahead of the clash with the Scottish champions.

With Montolivo ruled out, Allegri will likely opt for a combative midfield trio of Sulley Muntari, Nigel De Jong and Antonio Nocerino. That's not quite the star-studded and flamboyant list of names the San Siro has played host to on famous European nights in the past.

While Allegri did hint at the possibility he would consider handing promising youngster Bryan Cristante a spot in the starting line-up, will he follow up his talk with action? Unfortunately, it is unlikely, but the starlet would bring some invention to an otherwise ordinary midfield.

It is a huge decision in the context, despite the inevitable calls from supporters to see one of the more promising youth products handed a chance in the first team.

While Cristante certainly has the attributes to replace Montolivo in the side, he has shown during pre-season appearances that his rawness and inexperience could also be a deciding factor in whether or not he plays, and Allegri may decide to match Celtic's endeavour in the middle of the pitch.

Elsewhere, having shown glimpses of some impressive link-up play against Torino, Alessandro Matri will likely be fielded alongside Mario Balotelli in attack. With supporters confused by the signing of the former Juventus ace ahead of deadline day, it makes a little more sense this week considering the lack of options Allegri has.

Milan are undoubtedly crippled by injuries at this point, but it should be no excuse for not starting their Champions League campaign strongly. Celtic have proven over the years that they are capable of causing shocks in this competition, but the Rossoneri will still be expected to secure all three points at home.

It is unlikely to be enjoyable viewing, but at this stage the result will count more than the performance, and it will be up to the players that have somehow avoided picking up injuries to deliver.

Confident Milan can still secure a win despite the injuries? Should Cristante play?

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


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