Pato injured again as Ibrahimovic returns

Brief news ahead of this weekend's Serie A matches:

Alexandre Pato has suffered another thigh injury and will miss AC Milan's game at Palermo on Saturday but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back from his ban.

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose side top the table by a point from Juventus after last weekend's rancorous 1-1 draw between the duo, said the tricky trip to Palermo was almost as important.

"This is one of the decisive games of the season. They have changed lots of players but their mentality at home is the same," Allegri, who must also do without Alessandro Nesta and Maxi Lopez, told a news conference.

Palermo coach Bortolo Mutti is not looking forward to facing Ibrahimovic.

"I would have preferred he wasn't playing. He is an icon of football, great for supporters but not for us. How do we beat Milan? Hoping they are not at their best," he told reporters.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte is still buzzing from last weekend's draw at the San Siro, where Milan thought they should have won after a Sulley Muntari effort crossed the line.

"For me it was a bit like going back to when I was a player, when we were always fighting to win the scudetto," Conte, whose side have a game in hand, told reporters before Saturday's home game with Chievo.

"These situations exist because we're back to being competitive after many years. We've had the pleasure of playing a game defined by everyone as a "Scudetto clash", even if it's a tad premature, given that there are still 14 matches to go."

Chievo will be without main striker Sergio Pellissier, who has scored four goals in his last five games against Juventus.

Sunday's Rome derby looks like being the usual feisty affair both on and off the pitch but with Lazio and AS Roma chasing third spot and a Champions League qualifying berth, the spoils are more important than usual.

"Fear can become something uncontrollable and damaging," Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini told a news conference as the side tried to recover from last weekend's 4-1 defeat at Atalanta.

"Even if we lose the derby we know our fans will not abandon us."

Roma's Pablo Osvaldo and Marco Cassetti miss out through suspension but Lazio coach Edy Reja will definitely be there despite having his resignation rejected earlier this month.

"The club has had and will continue to have a good relationship with the coach, who has a contract until the end of the season," Lazio sporting director Igli Tare said.

Bologna have moved the kick-off of Sunday's match with Novara back three-and-a-half hours to avoid clashing with the funeral of popular local singer Lucio Dalla.