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Gattuso welcomes back Montolivo amid AC Milan injury crisis

Gennaro Gattuso rejected claims of a row with Riccardo Montolivo after naming the experienced midfielder in his squad for a Serie A game for the first time this season.

Montolivo, 33, has been on the fringes this season and is yet to make an appearance in any competition since his red card against Atalanta in May.

But Montolivo has been brought into the squad for Milan's trip to Udinese on Sunday as midfielders including Hakan Calhanoglu and Lucas Biglia have missed out on selection due to injury.

"The thing that annoys me the most is the bar talk," Gattuso told a news conference. "Montolivo has never been out of the team.

"He has always trained with the team. He has been called up because we have many injuries. I make choices. I have not had any problems with him.

"Calhanoglu and [Franck] Kessie were not fully fit against Genoa. Biglia will not train until Monday, he is having difficulty with his foot, as well as [Mattia] Caldara, even [Emanuele] Torrasi and [Marco] Brescianini are still out.

"[Davide] Calabria tried to train but still has some issues when changing direction on the pitch, Jack [Giacomo Bonaventura], on the other hand, is improving."

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A run of four wins from five Serie A games has lifted Milan into fourth position, the Rossoneri occupying the final Champions League qualification place in the Serie A table.

And despite a threadbare squad and a looming Europa League trip to Real Betis on Thursday, Gattuso told his players to dig deep into their energy reserves.

"We have to play as a team despite the absences, we put so much effort to reach the Champions League spot, now I hope we remain there," Gattuso said.

"The team trains well, it is clear that winning helps us to work better, but now it is time to hammer the nail and not give an inch. There is still a bit of fatigue, some players have not yet recovered mentally, I hope to see something different tomorrow.

"I like the fact that this group has a great desire to succeed, they are all dedicated, their performance at Milanello [the club's training ground] testifies it. This is the right spirit.

"I will think about the Europa League after the match with Udinese, right now I can't worry too much about that, when the time comes we will prepare for it.

"I don't have much of a choice, we have to combine quality with quantity, tomorrow we will have to battle on the pitch, win rebounds and one-on-one duels. They are one of the most physical teams in the Serie A and we have to play wisely."