Mike Maignan has returned from injury ahead of schedule and will start Milan’s Serie A clash with Sassuolo on Sunday, head coach Stefano Pioli has confirmed.
The France international began the campaign in fine form, starting every game as Milan collected 19 points to match their best start to a league campaign after seven games.
But Maignan, signed from Lille for €15million to replace Gianluigi Donnarumma, underwent surgery on his left wrist in mid-October and was expected to miss around 10 weeks.
However, having recently returned to training, the 26-year-old is now considered fit enough to make his comeback against Sassuolo in place of Ciprian Tatarusanu, who made a calamitous error in Milan’s 4-3 defeat to Fiorentina last time out in Serie A.
“Maignan is fine. He has been working with the team for a week and is ready,” Pioli said at Saturday’s pre-match news conference.
“He is back sooner because he has a great mentality. He is fine and will play tomorrow. Tatarusanu has done his duties well, but [Maignan] will return.”
Maignan kept a league-high 21 clean sheets in 38 games for Ligue 1 champions Lille last season – seven more than next-best Keylor Navas and Benoit Costil.
The Frenchman’s save percentage of 78.26 in seven Serie A games this season, meanwhile, is behind only Sergio Romero (80.56) and David Ospina (80.65) among those to have played more than twice.
Tatarusanu, for comparison, has saved 60 per cent of the shots he has faced in the six league games he has filled in for Maignan this term, keeping only one clean sheet.
Pioli also confirmed that centre-back Fikayo Tomori is closing in on a return from injury and is likely to be available for Wednesday’s trip to Genoa.
Before that, Milan welcome Sassuolo to San Siro with the aim of keeping their hopes of a first Scudetto success in 11 years on track.
Milan last lost successive games in Serie A in April, which includes a 2-1 home loss at the hands of Sassuolo, but Pioli is fully focused on bouncing back.
“We have a chance tomorrow to get back on track in the league,” said Pioli, who signed a new contract with the club on Friday.
“Winning games makes a difference and we all know we need to raise our game. We showed in Madrid that we have good quality in the squad, both technically and mentally.”