Milan lifted by form but worried by injuries before Tottenham match

Milan lifted by form but worried by injuries before Tottenham matchMilan prepared for their match with Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night by going to Turin and earning a 1‑0 victory on Saturday, after dominating from the start against Juventus.

A goal from Gennaro Gattuso – the bearded midfielder's first in three years – midway through the second half consolidated Milan's top spot in the table, five points clear of a resurgent Internazionale, who beat Genoa 5-2. Self-belief has been restored by three league wins, including a cavalier demolition of then second-placed Napoli which saw the return to scoring form of the Brazilian Alessandro Pato.

Nor should it have escaped Harry Redknapp's attention that the best player on the pitch was Thiago Silva. The 26-year-old Brazilian is rapidly forming a formidable twin-pillar in central defence alongside the impeccable Alessandro Nesta.

However, Milan arrive in London with no midfield to speak of. Suspensions and injuries sideline Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini, with Antonio Cassano and Mark van Bommel ineligible. The last's midfield pressing will be sorely missed. Yet Massimiliano Allegri, Milan's coach, dare not risk repeating his first-leg tactical flop of advancing Silva into midfield.

Clarence Seedorf, humiliatingly subbed at half‑time in that game and seeing his first action since then only in the final 20 minutes against Juventus, will probably be pulled back from the hole behind the strikers, his favoured position, into midfield. Even the 19‑year-old Alexander Merkel, a mobile left-sided novice, may be called upon.

At the weekend both Pato and the veteran defender Massimo Oddo were suffering from flu. After the match Silva said he too was fighting a stomach bug.

White Hart Lane would be a perfect storm made in footballing heaven for "Pippo" Inzaghi, whose 36‑year‑old legs reduce him to a super-sub cameo role when he is fit. Yet injury this time prevents even Super Pippo from trying the kind of Roy of the Rovers finale he has often pulled off in the past.

That role could fall instead to one man eager to show there is life after being offloaded by Portsmouth, the Berlin-born offensive midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng. The 24-year-old is improving with every game, yet limped off in Turin with an ankle injury.

So Allegri's increasingly limited options for White Hart Lane will largely depend upon the medical roll call handed to him by Milan Lab, the club's beleaguered medical unit, on Monday afternoon at a spring‑like Milanello training ground.

Powered by article was written by Kevin Buckley in Milan, for The Guardian on Sunday 6th March 2011 21.03 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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