Abate fit for Milan, Lavezzi coy over future

Brief news ahead of Serie A matches this weekend:

Leaders AC Milan expect to have right-back Ignazio Abate fit for Saturday's tricky trip to in-form Catania after he missed the midweek Champions League draw against Barcelona with a thigh strain.

Italy striker Antonio Cassano has increased his training after suffering heart and brain problems in October but is still nowhere near the first team as he works to be fit for Euro 2012.

Mark van Bommel is likely to miss the Catania game with a niggling back injury but Alessandro Nesta has recovered from cramps suffered against Barca.

Milan's Maxi Lopez will be eager to face his former team but Sulley Muntari and Djamel Mesbah are suspended.

Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio, whose unbeaten second-placed side host Napoli on Sunday, aiming to cut the four-point gap to Milan, has compared the Turin outfit to Barcelona.

"Possession of the ball, an attacking mentality; the ideas of [coach Antonio] Conte have been instilled in us," he told Gazzetta TV.

Juve and Napoli also meet in May's Italian Cup final, which will be played in Rome as scheduled after a row over the venue was sorted out.

Napoli striker Ezequiel Lavezzi has refused to commit to the club next season and says a robbery at his former home in Naples has made him wary of entering the notorious city.

"My future depends on many factors," the Uruguayan told Radio Marte. "I am happy here, the episode with the robbery has been forgotten, now we are in a lovely place. It's difficult to visit the city but the fans show me great affection."

Lazio president Claudio Lotito has said better days could lie ahead for his third-placed side if they bag the Champions League qualifying-round berth.

"I'm convinced Lazio can fight with all the other teams," he told reporters before Saturday's game at struggling Parma.

"Every game has its own story but we are in charge of our own destiny. We have nine games, nine finals. Next year Lazio will buy three or four top players."

Inter Milan caretaker coach Andrea Stramaccioni takes charge for the first time at home to Genoa on Sunday after introducing a series of his former youth team proteges to the first-team squad.

They are unlikely to start but with Maicon and Ricardo Alvarez still out, spots on the bench may beckon as the 36-year-old rookie manager aims to lift Inter from eighth spot.


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