Milan sweat on fitness of Pato ahead of Manchester United clash

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AC Milan will have to wait until next week before discovering whether Alexandre Pato will be fit to face Manchester United in the Champions League.

The Brazil striker is in danger of missing the second leg of the last 16 tie after limping out of last weekend's 3-1 Serie A victory over Atalanta with a hamstring strain.

Initial scans have revealed a muscle lesion but the Rossoneri will find out more when Pato returns for more medical treatment next week.

"Milan announces that Alexandre Pato today had an MRI that has shown a strain in his right biceps femoris without real muscle lesion," read a club statement.

"The player will undergo further tests on Monday morning."

Milan travel to Old Trafford on March 10 for the second leg of a tie in which they trail 3-2.

Meanwhile, Italy coach Marcello Lippi is refusing to admit defeat in his bid to persuade Alessandro Nesta to come out of international retirement.

On Monday, Lippi revealed that the 33-year-old AC Milan defender had turned down an initial approach to end his Azzurri exile ahead of the World Cup.

But Lippi has suggested that his attempt to persuade the World Cup-winning defender to return has not yet finished.

"I am sorry for Nesta, but I hope that I can have him," he said.

Nesta won the last of his 78 caps during the 2006 World Cup and turned down a request from former Italy coach Roberto Donadoni to come out of retirement ahead of the 2008 European Championship.

Elsewhere, coach Pierluigi Casiraghi has urged Mario Balotelli to use his under-21 opportunity to prove he deserves a place in Italy's World Cup squad.

The Internazionale striker has yet to win a first call-up to the full Azzurri squad despite a clamour for his inclusion, but Casiraghi believes that time is still on the 19-year-old starlet's side.

Balotelli is part of the under-21 squad that will take on Hungary on Wednesday night.

"I hope Balotelli plays like he did against Udinese for Inter," said Casiraghi, alluding to his goal during Inter's 3-2 win at the weekend.

"Does he deserve a place at the World Cup? Well, tomorrow, if he is intelligent, he will find particular motivation.

"If the World Cup is his objective then the game against Hungary will be an important window for his international ambitions."