ROME, Nov 8 (Reuters) AC Milan's Ronaldo is expected to make his first appearance of the season on Sunday in their Serie A visit to Atalanta after recovering from a nagging leg problem.
The Brazilian striker was included in Milan's squad for Tuesday's Champions League match at Shakhtar Donetsk, but did not take part in the 3-0 win.
His return to fitness is a much-needed boost for the European champions, who are 11 points behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan in ninth place.
Milan's home form has been particularly poor, so they may be happy to face Atalanta, who are four points above them in sixth, in Bergamo.
Milan have not won a league game this season at the San Siro, where they have picked up only four points and scored three goals.
But they thrashed Sampdoria and Lazio 5-0 and 5-1 in their last two away matches.
Inter, who have 25 points from 11 games, entertain struggling Lazio.
Both sides are short-handed.
Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo has joined Marco Materazzi, Patrick Vieira and Dejan Stankovic on Inter's injured list after fracturing his leg in last Sunday's 1-1 draw at Juventus.
The title-holders did not miss those players on Wednesday, when they beat CSKA Moscow 4-2 in the Champions League thanks to two goals each by Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Argentina midfielder Esteban Cambiasso.
Lazio, just one point above the relegation zone after losing their last three league games, are without suspended midfielders Gaby Mudingayi and Massimo Mutarelli, and the injured Stefano Mauri.
Captain Luciano Zauri is also out with a thigh strain from Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League win over Werder Bremen, while Macedonia striker Goran Pandev is doubtful because he too has a thigh problem.
''Victory in the Champions League will give us a morale boost for the Inter game,'' striker Tommaso Rocchi, whose goals sank Werder, told the club's Web site (www.sslazio.it).
''Everyone knows they are a difficult side, but we are going to the San Siro convinced we can win to move up the standings.'' Unbeaten Fiorentina, second with 23 points, host fifth-placed Udinese.
AS Roma, third with 22 points, are likely to be without captain Francesco Totti again for Sunday's home game against Cagliari because of an ankle injury.
Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved will miss fourth-placed Juventus's trip to Parma because he is suspended after being booked for the challenge that fractured Figo's leg.
Reuters TB RN1731