Pioli: ‘Ibra and Kessie back after the break, Pellegri not called up’

Milan coach Stefano Pioli expects both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Kessie to return after the international break and confirmed Pietro Pellegri will not be called up against Cagliari.

The Rossoneri duo are currently out injured, and Pioli seems sure they will be back after the World Cup qualifiers and return to the group ahead of the third game against Lazio.

“They are doing a good job, they are improving, and I hope that from next week they will be back in the group and ready after the stop,” Pioli said at a press conference. “When I hope to have the whole group available.”

But Pioli prepares for the next game against Cagliari, hoping to build on the 1-0 win over Sampdoria in the first round.

He said his priorities are to ‘start the championship well’ and doesn’t focus on the current affairs on the transfer market.

“Yes, let’s try to start the championship well,” he said. “Tomorrow we will face a difficult and well-structured team, we know the difficulties but also our qualities.

“The player’s desire to work with attention and quality stimulates me. Each match makes us grow and gives us ideas where to work and improve.”

Pioli doesn’t think Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Juventus has changed the title battle in Serie A.

“It was an unexpected departure, but I don’t think we can say the hierarchies change,” Pioli said. “There are seven very strong teams, it will be a fight until the end.”

Milan’s last Serie A meeting with Cagliari ended in a 0-0 draw at San Siro and Pioli believes his men have ‘grown’ over the last three months.

“We have grown, we are more aware of our characteristics,” the coach continued. “The important thing is that the team enters the pitch with clear ideas. Overcoming Cagliari will not be easy.

“We must always have this enthusiasm; we must get excited and excite our fans. Then I don’t know about our opponents, but we have grown.

“We are no longer the surprise of the championship and we try to develop.”

Ivory Coast international Kessie has still not signed a new deal with Milan and Pioli was asked if he was afraid of losing the midfielder, like he did with Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu.

“I concentrate only on tomorrow’s match, then on the transfer market and renewals there are still some important days to go, the evaluations are made at the end.”

Pietro Pellegri has returned to Serie A after a stint with Monaco in Ligue 1, but Pioli said he will not be ready to play against Cagliari.

“He’s in good conditions, but not yet optimal, we make the necessary assessments,” he said. “He will not be called up for tomorrow’s game.

“The will need the break a lot and in two weeks I hope that he’s completely in the group.”