Balotelli blow for Nice as Ajax loom

UEFA Champions League

OGC Nice will have to do without injured striker Mario Balotelli (hamstring) as they look to build on the 1-1 first-leg draw of their Champions League third qualifying round tie against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday night.

Balotelli bagged Nice's goal in the first leg last Wednesday, but he will not be on hand to help his side try to beat the Dutch side's away-goal advantage at the Amsterdam Arena after failing to recover from the hamstring strain sustained in that goal-scoring performance.

Pléa to step up

The 26-year-old Italian international will also miss the Aiglons' first clash of the Ligue 1 Conforama campaign away to Saint-Etienne on Saturday night, and coach Lucien Favre is likely to hand a start to Alassane Pléa - returning to action after long knee-injury lay-off - on Wednesday although he has also called up 18-year-old striker Kpene Ignatius Ganago from the reserve team for the trip to the Netherlands.

Balotelli had a superb first season in France as OGC Nice finished in third place in 2016-17, bagging 15 goals in 23 appearances, before signing on at the end of June for another year. He is expected to be fit again for the Week 2 Ligue 1 Conforama clash at home to promoted Troyes.


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