Eljif Elmas will start up front for Napoli in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against AC Milan after both Victor Osimhen and Giovanni Simeone were ruled out with injury.
Luciano Spalletti had been expected to select Giacomo Raspadori in place of star striker Osimhen who didn’t recover in time from a thigh injury suffered on international duty with Nigeria.
However Italy international Raspadori has also been struggling with injury and is not ready to start for the clash at the San Siro.
North Macedonian international Elmas starts in a ‘false nine’ position, alongside Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Hirving Lozano, who gets the nod ahead of Matteo Politano, on either side of a fluid front three.
Spalletti will be using Elmas in a role similar to the one he pioneered with Francesco Totti at Roma almost two decades ago.
Mario Rui pips Mathias Olivera for a starting spot at left-back.
Stefano Pioli meanwhile has picked the same starting XI as for the 4-0 thumping his Milan team dished out to Napoli in Serie A earlier this month.
Brahim Diaz starts on the right wing from where in Naples he scored one and set up another for Rafael Leao, who is on the left flank with Ismael Bennacer in behind veteran striker Olivier Giroud.
AC Milan (4-2-3-1)
Mike Maignan; Davide Calabria (capt), Simon Kjaer, Fikayo Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Rade Krunic, Sandro Tonali; Brahim Diaz, Ismael Bennacer, Rafael Leao; Olivier Giroud
Coach: Stefano Pioli (ITA)
Alex Meret; Giovanni Di Lorenzo (capt), Amir Rrahmani, Kim Min-jae, Mario Rui; Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Stanislav Lobotka, Piotr Zielinski; Hirving Lozano, Eljif Elmas, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia
Coach: Luciano Spalletti (ITA)
Referee: Istvan Kovacs (ROU)