AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli is battling yet another injury crisis which has made the first game after the international break against Empoli look rather more daunting. There has been an influx is injuries to key players as Theo Hernandez, Davide Calabria, Sandro Tonali and Mike Maignan have all reported problems in recent days, something which is not good news for Pioli ahead of a vital stretch of games.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alessandro Florenzi are also long-term absentees while Ante Rebic and Divock Origi are currently not ready to play again just yet, though it is possible that the former could make it back in time for the trip to the Stadio Carlo Castell Ani. In terms of how the team might therefore line up, the best case scenario foresees Maignan’s injury not being as bad as feared with him in goal and a back four of Sergino Dest, Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori and Davide Calabria, with one of the right-backs switching to the other flank. Fode Ballo-Toure could also play that role.

Continuing the optimistic prediction, Tonali may have withdrawn from Italy duty as a mere precaution and Ismael Bennacer is still fit, while Charles De Ketelaere should get the not to be the playmaker (or possibly Brahim Diaz).Junior Messias or Alexis Saelemaekers would then be on the right wing, with Rafael Leao on the left and Olivier Giroud – who already has a goal on international duty – leading the line, with Rebic and/or Origi to come off the bench.
Best case XI (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Dest; Bennacer, Tonali; Messias/Saelemaekers, De Ketelaere, Leao; Giroud.
The worst case scenario would see Ciprian Tatarusanu in goal if Maignan’s injury keeps him out, with the same back four as mentioned above. In midfield it could be up to Tommaso Pobega to partner Bennacer if Tonali’s muscle is not better.
Worst case XI (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Dest; Bennacer, Pobega; Messias/Saelemaekers, De Ketelaere, Leao; Giroud.