Wed, Feb 21, 2007 - Page 7 News List

AC Milan side racked by injury

DEPLETED The Italians have only one fit striker eligible for their clash with Celtic FC today, but coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted whoever played would give their all

AP , GLASGOW, SCOTLAND

AC Milan head into their Champions League match against Celtic with mounting injury concerns, including only one fit striker.

Alberto Gilardino, the club's top scorer, is doubtful for today's match at Celtic Park with a knee injury.

Ronaldo, who joined the club last month and scored two goals on his club debut on Saturday, is ineligible as he's already represented Real Madrid in the Champions League this season.

With striker Filippo Inzaghi also out injured and Marco Borriello suspended after a positive drugs test, Ricardo Oliveira could be Milan's only fit option in attack.

Attacking midfielder Clarence Seedorf is also doubtful, with a leg complaint. First-choice goalkeeper Dida is still injured and AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said Zeljko Kalac would start in goal.

"It's just like I always say, we will play with eleven regardless," Ancelotti said. "Whoever plays will certainly give their all."

Penalty

AC Milan started the season with an eight-point penalty from the Italian match fixing scandal. It's now in sixth place -- 30 points off leader Inter Milan -- and eager to prove itself after an unsettled start to the Italian season.

"I believe that the Champions League can give our side the opportunity to demonstrate where our true strength lies," Ancelotti said. "Celtic are a good team and they will use the home field to their advantage and do everything they can to play the game at their rhythm."

This is Celtic's first appearance in the Champions League knockout round and the club plays knowing that it is already close to retaining its Scottish title.

After a 2-1 win over Aberdeen on Saturday, Celtic needs to win four of its remaining 10 matches.

It will be much harder to emulate the Celtic team of 1967 which became the first British team to win the European Cup.

"We know we are underdogs but if you operate like a team you have a good chance, especially with the boost we will get from our fans," striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink said.

Memories

Vennegoor of Hesselink said the match brought back memories of the 2005 Champions League season, when he was playing for PSV Eindhoven. The Dutch club lost to AC Milan in the semi-finals on away goals after overturning a 2-0 first-leg deficit.

"The atmosphere at Celtic Park is electric on European nights and it gives the players a great lift," he said. "If we can play together as a team, we can achieve big things."

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan urged his side not to be overawed.

"The players have worked extremely hard this season and they deserve this occasion. They deserve the right to play against a top, top side like AC Milan," Strachan said. "We need enthusiasm, pace, common sense and we must not show any fear."

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