Zlatan Ibrahimovic will make his first AC Milan appearance for four months against Lazio in Serie A on Sunday, coach Stefano Pioli said.
Ibrahimovic, who has not featured for the Italian side since May due to a knee injury, is set to play at San Siro as the Rossoneri begin a crucial week at home and abroad.
“Ibra knows that four months away from the pitch is a long time,” Pioli told a news conference on Saturday.
“He has worked day and night to recover from this injury. Now he is well, but nobody at Milan can play all seven matches that we have coming up in the next three weeks.
“He is not at his best yet, which obviously must be managed. I hope he can get the continuity that he lacked last season. Tomorrow Zlatan can play a part to get into better shape and be ready for the next matches.”
Pioli said the clash with the Roman club comes too soon for Olivier Giroud, who recovered from Covid-19 on Friday, but Franck Kessie is available following injury.
The Ivorian has been the subject of transfer speculation recently as talks drag on over a new contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season.
“It is a situation that regards the club and the player’s agent, I only talk about football with Franck. I see him positive, calm and focused,” Pioli said.
Asked about a potentially frosty reception from the fans, Pioli added: “Our fans are too intelligent to not put Milan above everything else.”
Milan and Lazio have both won their two matches this season and the visit of the Roman club begins a big week for Pioli’s side, who travel to Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday before hosting Juventus next Sunday.
“On paper, it will be a match between two quality sides who are always looking to play an attacking game,” Pioli said.
“It will be a spectacular game, Lazio are very strong and have started well.
“It is difficult to compare the two teams (Lazio and Liverpool), Lazio play with a true centre-forward in Ciro Immobile, while Liverpool have Roberto Firmino up front.
“We have our qualities, which give us a lot of confidence. The Champions League will bring a lot of enthusiasm, but for now we are focused on tomorrow’s game.”