Milan's renaissance threatened by injuries
MILAN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - AC Milan hope their recent surge up the Serie A table will not be stalled by a sudden bout of injuries for Sunday's visit of struggling Siena (1400 GMT).
The European champions endured a dreadful first half of the campaign, failing to win at home in the league, but since the turn of the year, they have hauled themselves up to fifth.
After beating fourth-placed Fiorentina last weekend, Milan are now just four points behind the Florence side and a Champions League berth.
Knee and ankle injuries to Brazilian forwards Kaka and Alexandre Pato, who has scored four goals since arriving last month, now threaten to undo the good work unless Ronaldo can recover from his series of knocks to lead the line against Siena.
Filippo Inzaghi might also have a chance of being fit while little-used French midfielder Yoann Gourcuff will be relishing an opportunity to shine.
Injured Gennaro Gattuso is also out of the game but left back Marek Jankulovski hopes to available after knee trouble.
Milan remain 20 points behind leaders Inter Milan, whose own injury problems were starting to clear before defender Marco Materazzi has picked up another twinge.
Winger Luis Figo is close to a return from a broken leg but Patrick Vieira is suspended for Sunday's trip to Catania (1930) after being sent off in last week's 1-0 win over Empoli having only just recovered from hamstring trouble.
Inter have come under pressure in the media of late for being awarded some soft penalties, but boss Roberto Mancini has been quick to point out they played their last two league games with 10 men for more than a half.
Injury worries at third-placed Juventus are definitely easing ahead of Sunday's trip (1400) to Udinese in sixth.
Keeper Gianluigi Buffon should return after missing Italy's 3-1 friendly win over Portugal to fully recover from a bad back.
Defender Giorgio Chiellini may be back from a knock, winger Mauro Camoranesi is pushing for a start after shrugging off thigh problems while David Trezeguet's muscle injury in training this week was a false alarm.
Midfielder Cristiano Zanetti returns from suspension and new signing Mohamed Sissoko could start after Tiago produced another lacklustre display in the surprise 1-1 home draw with bottom side Cagliari last Sunday.
Second-placed AS Roma, eight behind points Inter, also suffered a shock last weekend when they went down 3-0 at Siena. A home game with lowly Reggina on Saturday (1930) may offer the perfect tonic.