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Old 19-02-2005, 03:02   #87
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Milan welcome back Pirlo
Friday 18 February, 2005
Andrea Pirlo is back in the squad for Saturday’s clash with Cagliari and Carlo Ancelotti hints at a starting spot for the midfielder.

“Pirlo has trained intensely over the last few days, so he is able to start,” said the Coach. “Unfortunately, we can’t rest him as often as I’d like because there is no understudy for his role. Massimo Ambrosini does very well, but in a different way.”

Pirlo was expected to be sidelined for another week after damaging a knee ligament during Italy’s 2-0 international friendly win over Russia. His absence in the lucky 1-0 victory at Reggina last weekend was sorely felt and prompted vice-President Adriano Galliani to criticise their tactics.

“I accepted his comments as normal advice and I wasn’t happy with our performance either, but I preferred to dwell on the positives. The three points are in the bag and we played simple football.”

Now the pressure is on Ancelotti’s men to deliver over the next week, as Milan will face Cagliari, Manchester United and arch rivals Inter.

Above all, there are six players on yellow cards and who therefore risk missing the Derby di Milano – Kakha Kaladze, Gennaro Gattuso, Marcos Cafu, Ambrosini, Alessandro Nesta and Kaka.

“We cannot rotate the squad now to anticipate two big games,” warned the tactician. “As the season goes on, I’ll see if there are some players who are a little tired. We’ll struggle for 90 minutes against Cagliari, but it certainly won’t affect the Manchester match. Milan have the psychological and physical stamina to go all the way in every competition.”

The Rossoneri are still just two points adrift of Juventus – who themselves face a tricky trip to Messina – and we could see another shock in store.

“Every game is important now and neither side can afford to slip up any more. We mustn’t make the mistake of thinking about Manchester United or Inter now, as Cagliari are a strange side that play very attacking football, but can’t seem to get what they deserve away from home. The pacey strikers will leave more room for us to manoeuvre, so it’ll be an entertaining encounter.”
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