MILAN, February 14- AC Milan have received an injury boost ahead of the Champions League visit of Tottenham on Tuesday but it does not regard one of their own players.
Welsh wing wonder Gareth Bale has been ruled out of the second round, first leg tie at the San Siro and one person in particular, Milan right back Ignazio Abate, will be heaving a huge sigh of relief.
Memories of Bale in Milan are still vivid following his scorching hat-trick against Inter in the Champions League group stages in the very same stadium he will not be able to grace again due to a back injury.
He did not travel to Milan due to the problem that has kept him out for around three weeks.
"I’d like to be able to scare Milan and say he’s going to be available, but he’s not," said Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp.
"He’s struggling to get over this back injury. The specialists don’t see too much of a problem there.
"There’s nothing that should keep him out too long (but) we’ve got to make sure he’s right.
"He’s a young lad and he’s very important. He’s got a great future in front of him.
"On Sunday morning, when the fitness coaches started to push him a bit, he couldn’t go on.
"He doesn’t feel he’s ready to play. We’ve got to take our time and make sure he’s right when he comes back."
Since Tottenham came to Milan earlier in the season and Bale tore Maicon apart in the second half, despite the English Premier League side playing with 10 men, the 21-year-old has been the talk of the town.
His three goals on blistering counter-attacks in a 4-3 defeat for the English has gone down in Milanese legend.
All three of Italy’s giants, Milan, Inter and Juventus, are rumoured to be interested in signing him while Inter admitted in January they had made enquiries but could not match Spurs’ valuation.
Maicon has long been regarded as the best right back in the league and is reknowned for his pace but the way that Bale repeatedly surged past him time and again over two legs — he was also chief architect in Spurs’ 3-1 win in London — has got Italy purring.
Bale’s absence, however, will result in a quick tactical rethink by Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri as his primary focus will now be shifted elsewhere.
Nico Kranjcar has proved an able replacement for the Welshman, scoring a pair of winning goals including one on Saturday at Sunderland.
But he does not have the pace and youthful endeavour of Bale and certainly does not terrorise defences in the same way.
Looking at Milan’s own options, they too are missing a crucial element in midfield playmaker Andrea Pirlo.
The veteran missed the weekend 4-0 thrashing of Parma after injuring his knee in training and is likely to be out for six weeks.
It means the rossoneri have a problem in the middle of the park as they are already without the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Massimo Ambrosini, due to injury, while Mark van Bommel and Urby Emanuelson are not eligible having already played in the competition for Bayern Munich and Ajax respectively.
And with forward Antonio Cassano likewise ruled out having played for Sampdoria in the qualification round, it will be an under-strength Milan that takes to the field at the San Siro.
A lot will then be riding on young Brazilian forward Pato, likely to start up front alongside the irreplaceable Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
However, Pato’s form has come under recent scrutiny with suggestions in the Italian press that he suffered a depression after his marriage broke down and also cannot play with his Swedish strike-partner.
It is now or never for Pato to prove his worth and demonstrate the undoubted talent everyone knows he possesses.