AC Milan's French international defender Philippe Mexes told AFP today that he is still some way off a full recovery from the knee injury that he suffered in April. "I don't yet know if I will be ready to return by October," he said when asked whether he would be available for France's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers against Albania on 7 October and Bosnia-Herzegovina on 11 October.
"My aim is to be fit as soon as possible, but at this moment I can't say exactly when that will be. I need to make sure that I don't come back too soon, because with a knee injury that could be very damaging indeed."
After seven seasons with Roma, Mexes joined Milan in the close season despite rupturing the ligaments in his right knee while playing for the capital club against Juventus in April.
The 29-year-old has become a fixture in the France defence once again following the arrival of Laurent Blanc as coach last summer, but his injury means that he will miss the friendly against Chile in Montpellier in August as well as the September qualifiers in Albania and Romania.
"I won back my place in the national team thanks to my teammates at Roma, but then unfortunately the injury happened", he said at the Serie A champions Milanello base on their first day of pre-season training.
Mexes, who will be competing for a place in the Rossoneri defence with veteran Alessandro Nesta and Brazilian stopper Thiago Silva, is also certain to miss the opening weeks of the new domestic season. "It is annoying to know that I am going to miss the start of the season, but I have no choice", he added. "I just have to work hard and give everything in training to try and win a place in the team."
Meanwhile, Mexes' new coach at Milan, Massimiliano Allegri, said that he is confident Italian international striker Antonio Cassano will remain at the club for the new campaign despite not being guaranteed a place in the side. "People say that he might leave, but I don't think he will. Cassano is happy here and we are happy to have him," he insisted.
The often controversial player, nicknamed Fantantonio, is a key member of the Azzurri side under Cesare Prandelli, but he has been told by Prandelli that he needs to be a regular starter at club level. Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani echoed Allegri's comments, saying: "We want to have a squad of 25, so some players will need to move on, but no key players will be leaving, and that includes Cassano."
Milan's season proper gets underway on 6 August when they face city rivals Inter in the Supercup, a match that will be held in the Chinese capital Beijing.