REUTERS – AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli is not fit enough to start this weekend’s derby with Inter despite scoring in a cup match on Tuesday, coach Sinisa Mihajlovic said.
“There was never a question of Mario playing the derby because he’s not yet in shape to play,” the coach told Italian sports channel Rai Sport.
Balotelli, who has missed three months of the season due to a groin injury, scored the penalty that scraped a 1-0 win for Milan over third tier Alessandria in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final on Tuesday.
“We know Balotelli, (Kevin-Prince) Boateng and the others that have played less can’t quite come through a full match yet, but the only way to build up match fitness is by giving them game time,” said the coach to the club’s official channel.
Sixth-placed Milan play local rivals Inter, fourth in the league, on Sunday evening in a fixture that is always a higlight of the Serie A season.
(Reporting by Silvia Recchimuzzi in Gdynia; Editing by Keith Weir)