Pioli credits Ibrahimovic influence as Milan striker eyes first start of the season
Stefano Pioli credited Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his influence on Milan's squad as he suggested the fit-again striker will soon be able to make his first start of the season.
Having undergone anterior cruciate ligament surgery shortly after helping Milan end an 11-year wait to win the Scudetto last May, Ibrahimovic made his first appearance of the campaign last week.
Ibrahimovic entered the fray as a substitute as Milan beat fellow top-four contenders Atalanta 2-0 at San Siro, recording their fourth consecutive victory without conceding across all competitions.
Asked what kind of involvement Ibrahimovic may have when Milan visit Fiorentina on Saturday, Pioli said: "Not full playing time, but he will soon be able to start.
"Zlatan is Zlatan, it's his strength, his return is important. In training with him or without him, there's definitely a difference."
Milan are looking to win five successive games without conceding for just the fifth time in their history on Saturday, having last done so in 2018 under Gennaro Gattuso.
The Rossoneri's run represents a remarkable turnaround after they went seven matches without winning shortly after the World Cup, a downturn which saw them drop out of Serie A's top four and exit the Coppa Italia.
The more positive mood emerging at San Siro has been helped by the returns of Ibrahimovic and goalkeeper Mike Maignan, but Pioli puts their recent improvement down to others stepping up.
"There's more to it [than the returns of Ibrahimovic and Maignan]" Pioli said. "There's the work and the quality of the players. Then we're talking about players who raise the level of the team.
"It's time to give continuity. We are the ones who can influence our performances to achieve positive results, we must play with great attention and great determination.
"With more players we are stronger, tomorrow [Ismael] Bennacer, [Davide] Calabria and [Alessandro] Florenzi will return."