AC Milan captain Riccardo Montolivo could return to action for the first time in over six months against Empoli, head coach Vincenzo Montella has revealed.
The 32-year-old midfielder has been restricted to seven Serie A appearances this season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Italy's 1-1 draw with Spain last October.
But Milan are set to welcome Montolivo back into the fold for their run-in as Montella looks to secure European qualification over the final weeks of the season.
Milan, who are on a four-match unbeaten run, are at home to 17th-placed Empoli on Sunday.
"Riccardo Montolivo could be in the squad for Empoli, unlike Andrea Bertolacci, who should be back in the group next week," Montella said to Milan TV.
"Empoli are a very well-organised team. The win in the derby with Fiorentina was a great morale booster for them.
"I grew up in Empoli and have many friends there. That is where I became a player, so naturally there is a very close bond."
After facing Empoli, Milan are away to third-from-bottom Crotone, a double-header that could see them improve on their current position of sixth, which as things stand would be enough for a Europa League place.
"The next two matches are really important for us," said Montella. "We have to play with enthusiasm, dedication and determination.
"The euphoria of the derby against Inter is in the past now and our minds are on Empoli – we have to keep focused throughout the game."