AC Milan is dealing with a bit of an injury crisis at the moment. The list of players recovering from health issues is growing. Six players are currently out of commission.
- Jeremy Menez (hip) – out until January
- Mario Balotelli (groin) – out indefinitely
- Ignazio Abate (thigh) – should return next week
- Alex (concussion) – out indefinitely
- Andrea Bertolacci (hamstring) – out indefinitely
- Diego Lopez (tendonitis) – out indefinitely
Add in Giacomo Bonaventura, who will miss the Atalanta match due to yellow card accumulation, and Milan will be without seven players for Saturday's contest. This is nothing Milan cannot handle.
Milan will still be expected to put a winning squad on the field Saturday. Below is a probable lineup for Sinsia Mihajlovic, according to Calcio News 24.
Saturday could be the season debut of M'Baye Niang, which would be a welcome sight for Milan, and it could limit the damage done by Bonaventura's suspension. This has been seen as a potentially big season for Niang, the 20-year-old Frenchman who has yet to make a significant impact with the Rossoneri. Playing alongside Carlos Bacca and Alessio Cerci in Mihajlovic's new 4-3-3, Niang could be a great addition to the squad.
Even Mario Balotelli's injury has not been an issue for Milan. It seems like ages since the Liverpool loanee's lone goal, a beautiful free kick. With Bacca and Luiz Adriano in front of him as strikers, his loss is not a serious impact right now.
Bertolacci has started to come into his own as a Milan player, so his injury is an unwelcome one in the midfield for the Rossoneri. But his loss could allow for the likes of Andrea Poli to regain his spot, or for Jose Mauri to finally make an impact for Milan.
Defensively, the injuries to Alex and Abate are only critical in terms of depth, and even that is not a serious issue. Philippe Mexes will likely get the start alongside Alessio Romagnoli. Mexes was clutch Sunday when he replaced Alex, scoring almost immediately after taking to the pitch. If Mexes does not work out, Cristian Zapata and Rodrigo Ely are waiting on the bench. If something happens to Luca Antonelli or Mattia De Sciglio, Abate may not be around, but Davide Calabria has stepped up big for Milan already this season. He could do it again if needed.
In goal, Lopez's loss is not as big a deal as it would have been had he not been benched three matches ago in favor of Gianluigi Donnarumma. The 16-year-old Italian is coming into his own as Milan's No. 1 goalkeeper. Christian Abbiati will be on the bench in case of a tragedy, but Donnarumma is the guy now.
Only Menez's injury seems to be severe, and he cannot really be considered a loss to this new-look Milan side, seeing as he has not played yet this season. When he is healthy, he could have an impact.
Injuries are stacking up, and Bonaventura's suspension does not help, but Milan can manage for now. Other than a matchup with Juventus Nov. 21, Milan has a pretty easy schedule through the end of 2015.
- vs. Atalanta, Nov. 7
- at Juventus, Nov. 21
- vs. Sampdoria, Nov. 28
- vs. Crotone (Coppa Italia), Dec. 1
- at Carpi, Dec. 6
- vs. Verona, Dec. 13
- at Frosinone, Dec. 20
All seven players out against Atalanta could miss all those matches, and Milan could perceivably survive. Milan will still field a squad of players who have produced this season, most of them more than those currently injured. It may look like an injury crisis, but it could be a lot worse.