Pioli offers key fitness update on Calhanoglu and Musacchio; gives Bennacer area to improve

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has offered an update on the fitness of two key players after Monday night’s win over Torino.

It wasn’t a vintage performance from the Rossoneri at San Siro, however they obtained a 1-0 victory thanks to a first half effort from Ante Rebic.

Pioli was forced into a change on the day of the game as Hakan Calhanoglu missed out with a muscle problem; Lucas Paqueta coming in to replace him as the trequartista in the only change from Thursday’s draw with Juventus.

Then, in the 44th minute Pioli was forced into an early change though as young centre-back Matteo Gabbia came on for his Serie A debut, replacing Simon Kjaer who landed awkwardly when clearing a ball for a corner.

Pioli spoke to the media after the game in his press conference, and his words were transcribed by MilanNews.it.

“Calhanoglu had a problem against Juventus. He shouldn’t be long, there is a chance he will play on Saturday. Kjaer had something during the stretch, he says it shouldn’t be anything serious. Hopefully he will be alright, because we are facing an important period,” Pioli said.

“Musacchio was about to enter and he told me that in the warm-ups he had a problem in his calf. Hopefully it is nothing serious. He is certainly not happy yes, like all the team members who are on the bench.”

If there is room to dream of a top four finishes: “There is only room to prepare well for the next match in 5 days. It is a difficult match against a strong Fiorentina, then we will think about the standings from Saturday evening.”

On the 45,000+ crowd at San Siro: “The fans are fantastic, they encourage us every Sunday. They are only to thank, today we were eleventh in the standings before the game and we entered a passionate stadium that incited us. The results became positive thanks to the environment.”

Ismael Bennacer produced another excellent performance in the midfield alongside Franck Kessie, and the Algeria international is fast becoming on of the first names on the team-sheet.

“He is doing well and is growing. In my opinion he holds the ball too much in certain situations, but he is growing. He is a player of excellent temperament,” Pioli said.

“I don’t think he takes yellow cards because the others don’t work. We are working well in the defensive phase. His generosity every now and then leads him to be less lucid. It is a growth that will come, because he is a boy willing and convinced. To play there you have to play simpler, touching the ball less.”

Tags AC Milan Hakan Calhanoglu Simon Kjaer