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Balotelli set for AC Milan debut

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed new signing Mario Balotelli may be in line for a debut against Udinese on Sunday.

The 22-year-old former Manchester City striker was quick to mark his return to Italy with a goal, scoring in a friendly on Thursday.

Allegri has no fears about putting Balotelli straight into the starting line-up where he could feature alongside Giampaolo Pazzini.

“He joined on Thursday, and is in good shape physically,” he told reporters.

“I will decide today (Saturday) whether he’ll start or be on the bench. It is not just a tactical choice, but also dictated by the situation.

“In my view he can be paired with Pazzini, who has done well so far this season.”

Allegri said the signing has benefited AC Milan in several ways, pointing to the lift the transfer has given his side.

“Balotelli’s arrival is important for the club in media terms. He has brought a strong wave of enthusiasm, although we must remain detached from that,” Allegri said.

AC Milan now have a wealth of attacking options despite the loss of Alexandre Pato to Corinthians, with Stephan El Shaarawy, Bojan and M’Baye Niang showing their potential this season.

The added firepower up front is something which suits the coach.

“I think it’s good to maintain a healthy competition for places between the players,” Allegri said.

“Things are going better. We must concentrate on tomorrow’s game which will allow us to stay in the race for a Champions League spot.”

Sat 2 February, 2013
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