AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is remaining coy on whether Alexandre Pato will make his return from injury in Wednesday’s Champions League clash with BATE Borisov.
Pato has been out of action for four weeks with a thigh complaint sustained in last month’s 1-1 draw with Udinese. The Brazilian striker is now approaching full fitness, but Allegri is reluctant to risk him at San Siro unless he is 100 per cent ready.
“Pato is much better, but it is a situation which has to be assessed day by day, and with injuries like this it’s better to be careful," he told the club's official website.
Allegri did confirm that Mark van Bommel is available for selection but that Massimo Ambrosini will not feature. There are also ongoing doubts over the participation of Clarence Seedorf and Thiago Silva.
“I'll have to evaluate training [on Tuesday],” he mused. “Seedorf has not trained with the rest of the squad for the past two days, Thiago Silva did not train [on Monday], Van Bommel's fine, but I do not think Ambrosini will be fit.”
Allegri confirmed that Antonio Cassano will start, with the enigmatic Italian international currently in great form.
“Antonio is doing very well,” the Milan tactician said. “He is in excellent physical condition and is working hard even when the team needs to retrieve the ball, and it makes me very happy.”
Allegri has also been buoyed by the way in which his side responded to their tame capitulation at the hands of Juventus just before the international break in routing Palermo 3-0 at San Siro on Saturday.
“Milan messed up in Turin,” he conceded. “Saturday was a match of real intensity, quality and great technique in attack and, above all, defence.
“It may be that Saturday’s game kick-starts our season: we had a good win and now we will have a crucial month in terms of the Champions League and Serie A.”
However, despite his renewed optimism, Allegri is not underestimating the threat posed by their opponents on Wednesday night.
“Tomorrow we will face a team that will take away space, which defends in an organised fashion,” he said of BATE. “They're young and in good shape.
“We must play with respect, strength and great technique. We start as usual from 0-0, so we need to play a great game. Otherwise, like against Viktoria Plzen, we will give away 10-12 shots on goal: this cannot happen tomorrow."
The Belarusians visit San Siro for a 20:45 (CET) kick-off on Wednesday with just one point to their names after two games in Group H, while Milan are second on four.