Milan's Maldini has faith in fellow veteran Fiori

February 20, 2008

AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini insists the team have complete faith in fellow veteran Valerio Fiori - with the goalkeeper looking set for a first appearance since 2003 in tonight's Champions League clash against Arsenal.

With regular number one Dida already out with a back injury and understudy Zeljko Kalac a major doubt because of a dislocated finger, 38-year-old Fiori may well get a call into action.

Fiori has made just two competitive appearances in eight seasons with the Rossoneri, but maintains he is ready if needed.

Maldini, who made his 1,000th appearance for club and country in the draw with Parma last weekend, maintains his team-mate will be up to the task.

He declared: 'The team have full confidence in all three of our goalkeepers. I am sure he will do well.

'Obviously, he may be nervous in the first minute, but we have faith.'

AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti will, though, leave a decision as late as possible.

'We will try Kalac on Wednesday. If he's in a condition to play, he will. Otherwise, Fiori will play,' said the Milan boss.

'I am not sure he will make it in time to recover, even though he says he feels okay.

'If not, we have full trust and confidence in Fiori. I won't be losing sleep on that front.'

Ancelotti does not think defeat against Arsenal tonight would signal the end of the road for the Champions League holders.

The Italians - who beat Liverpool in last season's final - have hardly been in top form, with successive draws leaving them in fifth place in Serie A, but some 21 points adrift of leaders and city rivals Inter.

However, Ancelotti's men remain full of European pedigree, spearheaded by World Player of the Year Kaka.

In last season's semi-final, Milan were beaten 3-2 by Manchester United at Old Trafford, but went on to record a comprehensive 3-0 victory in the return leg.

Ancelotti believes that experience could prove key to this tie.

'We can even lose this first leg. We lost in Manchester,' he said.

'It is important to understand that we can still do it even if we lose this first leg. We can win the return match.'

Ancelotti continued: 'We will need personality and character to win this game.

'The success of AC Milan in the last few years has always been about finding that personality and character.

'I am confident. We still have a lot of motivation to do well in this competition, and we are very determined to get through.

'We have the qualities to get through this tie.'