ROME - Coach Jose Mourinho is toiling with suspensions, an injury concern and an unrepentant teenage rebel as Inter Milan prepare to defend their one-point lead in Saturday's Serie A clash with Bologna.
Mario Balotelli, who has been frozen out for a month after a disagreement with the coach, is unlikely to play at the San Siro despite four players, including forward Samuel Eto'o, being suspended.
Brazilian defenders Lucio and Maicon and captain Javier Zanetti are also suspended, while playmaker Wesley Sneijder is a doubt because of an ankle problem he suffered in Wednesday's 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow in their Champions League quarter-final first leg.
But 19-year-old Balotelli, of Ghanaian descent, dented his chances of coming back into the fold when he said this week that he had no intention of apologising, amid media reports of an incident in training.
"I don't think he'll be called up for Saturday," Mourinho told reporters after the CSKA game. "It doesn't depend on me, it depends on Mario.
"It's not an issue between me and him, but between the club and the lad. He knows what he has to say. He either says it or he doesn't. Eto'o was right when he said the team comes before any individual."
The row is the latest in a series of run-ins between Mourinho and the talented Italy under-21 international, who has frequently been hit by racist abuse from rival fans.
Fortunately for Mourinho he should be able to count on in-form Argentine forward Diego Milito, who scored the winner against CSKA, as his side try to pull out of a poor domestic run against 15th-placed Bologna, who have lost their last three.
Inter's lead has been cut from nine points in mid-February after winning just two of their last nine league games.
Second-placed Roma are expected to have captain Francesco Totti back in their starting lineup at Bari on Saturday after he came on as a late substitute in last week's 2-1 victory over Inter following a knee injury.
But Claudio Ranieri will be unable to field suspended midfielders Simone Perrotta and Jeremy Menez.
AC Milan, who are three points behind Inter in third, will have Ronaldinho and Andrea Pirlo back from bans when they seek to end a three-match winless streak at Cagliari on Saturday.
Midfielder Mathieu Flamini is suspended this weekend and Leonardo's injury list still includes centre back Alessandro Nesta and forward Alexandre Pato.comments