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Injured Ibrahimovic like a caged lion, Milan coach Pioli says

serie a ac milan v crotone
AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is like a caged lion as he fights to regain fitness, but the Swede will be unavailable for AC Milan’s Italian Cup quarter-final against Lazio, coach Stefano Pioli said on Tuesday.

The 40-year-old striker, Milan’s joint-top scorer this season with eight goals, has a damaged Achilles tendon and missed Saturday’s 2-1 Milan derby victory over league leaders Inter.

“Zlatan is a caged lion. He is motivated to help the team on the pitch. He is doing everything to recover, he won’t be ready for tomorrow but we will see about the next games,” Pioli told Sport Mediaset.

Olivier Giroud started in Ibrahimovic’s place against Inter and was the hero, scoring twice in three second-half minutes to complete a surprise comeback and silence his detractors. “The critics are always there, what counts is the faith that we have in him,” Pioli said.

“He is showing that he is the player who we bought, a valuable player and person who is giving a great contribution to the team.”

Milan haven’t won the Italian Cup since 2003 and are involved in a fierce Serie A title race, sitting one point behind leaders Inter.

“The concrete objective is to eliminate Lazio tomorrow. That will be a difficult obstacle, they are in good form and won a great match against Fiorentina on Saturday. We will focus on tomorrow’s match and then go one step at a time,” Pioli said.

“Today’s training session will be very important to understand the condition of the players, but the best possible team will be selected.”

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