Injury to influential ace a major blow for Milan but starlet now has big chance to step up

With Alessio Romagnoli’s injury dealing a huge blow to Milan for the final three games of the Serie A season, Matteo Gabbia will now be expected to fill the void.

Aside from the fact that he has cemented his place in the side with his defensive solidity and class in possession, Romagnoli has grown into a leadership role this season as captain and has been an ever-present throughout the campaign as those were the first minutes he’s missed all year after coming off at Sassuolo.

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Given our impressive run since the restart, Stefano Pioli has benefitted from having a settled line-up and the consistency that comes with that as the players have built key partnerships and chemistry on the pitch.

With that in mind, it’s never ideal to lose such an influential player, but if we have ambitions of competing at the top level again moving forward and on multiple fronts, these are the type of challenges that we must face and come through to succeed.

Gabbia now has another chance to shine

It’s been an up and down campaign for the 20-year-old as from the highs of making his breakthrough in the senior side and signing a new long-term contract to struggling to convince against Lecce and SPAL, he hasn’t been involved in the starting XI for the last five consecutive Serie A games.

The form and quality of Simon Kjaer has also contributed to keeping him out of the side, but now he’ll have the opportunity to prove his worth and show that he should remain next season as an option at the back.

To his credit, he did well against Sassuolo for the final hour or so, as it wouldn’t have been easy to step into that situation short of match fitness and sharpness against a dangerous attacking side.

He filled in well and kept things tight at the back, and with Kjaer next to him, it’s hoped that the Dane can use his experience to help guide his teammate in the coming games if Romagnoli fails to recover.

Mentality is everything in this situation. Rather than feel nerves and apprehension about the pressure that will come with trying to fill the void left behind by Romagnoli, Gabbia has to be positive and establish himself as an important figure capable of delivering when called upon.

With Theo Hernandez and Ismael Bennacer suspended for the clash with free-scoring Atalanta on Friday, it’s potentially going to leave him even more exposed on the left side of the centre-half pairing, and so it’s imperative that he stamps his mark on the game early and grows in confidence as the encounter goes on to keep things tight at the back.

It’s a blow for Milan to lose Romagnoli after such an excellent campaign and run of results, but there has to be a ‘next man up’ mentality within the squad to ensure that we don’t miss his presence too much.