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SPORT: Mario BalotelliMario Balotelli urged to take AC Milan opportunity

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Sinisa Mihajlovic has urged Mario Balotelli to take his chance at AC Milan after confirming the Italy striker will start Tuesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final against Alessandria.

Balotelli’s season-long loan spell at San Siro has been plagued by injury but will again get the chance to impress against the third-tier side in the second leg of their last-four clash.

Milan go into the game as overwhelming favourites having won the first leg 1-0 – Balotelli netting the match-winning penalty – and Mihajlovic will use the fixture to try out some of his fringe players.

“We have the chance to progress to the final and I will be starting some of those players that have played less this season,” he said at Monday’s pre-match news conference.

“We all care a great deal about this competition and I am expecting a great performance from everyone. We are in good form and we know what we have to do, battle and work hard for one another.

“We need to step things up a gear and I am expecting a lot from those who have played less such as Balotelli and [Jeremy] Menez. They are quality players and they have to make the most of the chances that come their way. They will both play.”

Milan have lost just one of their last 18 games in all competitions and a place in the Coppa final against either Juventus or Inter appears a formality but Mihajlovic has warned his players against complacency.

He added: “We cannot lower our guard. By progressing, we will have a chance to lift a trophy and we need to make the best of this opportunity.

“We are preparing well and we are looking to keep our concentration levels high.

“I always want to improve. Hard work pays and we are now seeing the results. But we still haven’t achieved anything yet, we are in sixth place in the table, and we must take things one game at a time.”

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