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Napoli Receive Fitness Boost Ahead Of Coppa Italia Final

Christian Maggio has been cleared to play in the Coppa final this Saturday, and Gonzalo Higuain might be ready as well.

Giuseppe Bellini

For those seeking good news in advance of Saturday's Coppa Italia final, look no further: Napoli will definitely have one injured star available, and might regain another as well.

Christian Maggio has been formally cleared to play by CONI, Italy's Olympic Committee. While normally not a requirement for returns from injury, the extreme nature of Maggio's situation made it a requirement, but they've now signed off on all needed documentation and clearances to allow the Italian international to play again, starting this weekend.

Maggio, as you may recall, required emergency surgery for a collapsed lung in March after the away leg of the Porto tie in the Europa League. He'd suffered what was first characterized as a "knock" in training, and traveled to Portugal with the club despite being unlikely to play. Something happened between the match and the team's plane landing in Naples, however, as Maggio was immediately taken to the hospital to have a tube inserted in order to reinflate his lung.

Of course, whether or not Maggio will start on Saturday is another matter entirely. Henrique Buss has performed much better than expected at right back in the Italian's absence; to be quite honest, he's playing better than Maggio had in awhile before his surgery. Given that Maggio hasn't been in training long enough to rebuild full fitness levels, it'd be fairly surprising to see him start in a do-or-die match.

In other hope-boosting news, it sounds as though Napoli's medical staff are hopeful that Gonzalo Higuain will be able to play after what initially looked like a rather serious injury sustained this weekend. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Higuain is still in some pain, but is pushing hard to be ready and expects to pass a fitness test later this week.

However, the more gets said about Higuain's injury, the more it sounds like he actually suffered a bone bruise to his tibia, not just a tissue or muscular bruise as was first reported. If that's the case, he'll likely still be suffering a fair amount of pain by Saturday and might not be able to move freely, making it potentially less than ideal to start him. He'd still be able to play an impact sub role if Napoli are chasing a goal, but you wouldn't want him running on that kind of injury for a full match.

In any case, it's good to know that his injury is nowhere near as serious as was feared. Getting him and Maggio back will be a boost to the squad as a whole, and should help Napoli finish out the season strongly. First things first, though: win the Coppa.