Milan playmaker Kaka is bidding to defy club medics and make the squad for a city derby his side almost certainly need to win to keep their dwindling Serie A title hopes alive.
The Brazilian, who turned down a world record move to Manchester City last month, injured his foot in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Reggina and doctors ruled him out for 15 days.
However, he is making a quicker-than-expected recovery ahead of Sunday’s clash with leaders Internazionale, who have an eight-point advantage over their third-placed rivals.
“We will see if he can recover for the derby, at least for the bench. It is too early to say now,” Milan doctor Jean-Pierre Meersseman said. Defender Alessandro Nesta also hopes to make a return after being blighted by injury for months.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti, whose side last won the scudetto in 2004, needs a fair slice of good fortune if the Rossoneri are to challenge this season and he is to cling on to his job.
Defeat would leave them 11 points adrift of Inter with 14 games remaining, a seemingly insurmountable task given that Jose Mourinho’s team are picking up points despite not always playing well.
Media reports have said another season’s failure in Serie A would mean Ancelotti leaving the San Siro, with rumours circling that Chelsea are interested having only appointed Guus Hiddink until the end of the campaign. For now though, the only matter on Ancelotti’s mind is one of the biggest games in club football.
His main hope is that Milan can repeat their 1-0 victory in September, one of only two defeats Inter have suffered in the league, when the inconsistent Ronaldinho nodded in the winner.
That headed goal was a rarity for Milan, who laboured against bottom side Reggina because striker Alexandre Pato was not tall enough to connect with David Beckham’s crosses.
Inter’s physical presence is huge in comparison and their height in the box and record against smaller teams has been key to their success as they chase a fourth straight title.
Their powerful squad will be further strengthened by burly striker Adriano being available again after a three-game ban, although he was not missed in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Lecce.
Juventus, a point above Milan in second, still hope to have a say in this season’s championship but again have injury problems for Sunday’s home game with Sampdoria.