Soccer-Milan to make late call on Ibrahimovic for Verona clash - Pioli

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - AC Milan v Lazio - San Siro, Milan, Italy - September 12, 2021 AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

(Reuters) -AC Milan will make a late call on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's potential return for Saturday's Serie A match against Hellas Verona, manager Stefano Pioli said on Friday.

Ibrahimovic, who turned 40 earlier this month, has played only 30 minutes for the club this season due to knee and Achilles injuries but the Swedish striker has returned to training.

"He is better, he trained with us since yesterday. I think tomorrow morning's training will be very important, then we will decide if he will be called up or not. His condition is improving," Pioli told reporters.

Pioli added that veteran striker Olivier Giroud would be available after he sat out the Atalanta clash before the international break while Romanian goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu will start after they lost Mike Maignan to a wrist injury.

"(Giroud) made good use of the break, he is certainly better and is available tomorrow," Pioli said.

"Tomorrow (Tatarusanu) will start... He is a great professional, an excellent goalkeeper, available and appreciated by all. He is ready to take advantage of the opportunity."

Milan, however, will have to make do with the absence of Brahim Diaz, who tested positive for COVID-19.

"The player is doing well and is in isolation at home. The whole team has been tested with a negative result," the club said in a statement.

Milan are second in the standings, two points behind leaders Napoli, and take on a Verona side that turned their season around after three losses in the opening three games to move up to 12th in Serie A.

"We are facing a team that is doing well, in their minds and in physical condition. We must be good at exploiting some of their mistakes, we must be very dynamic on the pitch," Pioli said.

"With these teams, moving well at the right time becomes very important, we must be continuous in the match without losing the common thread of our strategy. The crucial points in the end will be those against teams like Verona."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Julien PretotEditing by Toby Davis)

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