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Injuries to handicap Valencia’s Champions League hopes against Atalanta

MADRID, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) — Valencia travel to Milan on Tuesday ahead of their Champions League tie against Atalanta in the San Siro Stadium with the plans of coach Albert Celades badly affected by a host of injuries.

Valencia will be without the services of central defender Ezequiel Garay, who is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, while Garay’s usual central defensive partner, Gabriel Paulista is also out of the squad after picking up an injury at the end of Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home to Atletico Madrid.

Right backs Cristiano Piccini is also a long-term injury with a fractured kneecap, while Alessandro Florenzi is also injured, meaning that B-team player Guillen Molina has been called into the squad.

There had been hope that central midfielder Francis Coquelin and Spain international striker Rodrigo Moreno would be able to recover from a hamstring problem and a knee injury in time for Wednesday’s game, but neither of them have made the squad.

To make matters even worse for Celades, the young South Korean forward Kang In-lee suffered a muscle problem during Tuesday morning’s final session before flying to Italy and has also stayed in Valencia to undergo further tests.

Although Kevin Gameiro is an able and experienced substitute for Rodrigo in attack and Daniel Wass is a reliable performer at right back, Valencia fans will be worried about the vulnerability of the central defensive pairing of Mouctar Diakhaby and Eliaquim Mangala, especially without Coquelin in front of them to help provide cover.

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