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Champions League: Sandro Tonali out to prove a point back in Milan

A few eyebrows were raised when Newcastle United paid in the region of £65million for Sandro Tonali during the summer transfer window, but the Italian has made a solid start to life in England.

Much was made of the midfielder saying he had wanted to stay at AC Milan rather than move to Tyneside and now the Italy international gets the chance to meet his former team-mates in the Champions League.

Tonali admits he will be emotional on his return to the San Siro, but it does give him the opportunity to show his ability and potential at the top level of European football.

WhatAC Milan v Newcastle United
WhereSan Siro, Milan
When17:45, Tuesday 19th September
How to watchTNT Sports 1
OddsAC Milan 31/20, Draw 12/5, Newcastle 17/10

Tonali hopes to prove the doubters wrong

Italian players have often struggled to make an impact in the Premier League and only one - Mario Balotelli - has collected a title-winner’s medal.

Having started his career with Brescia, 23-year-old Tonali had played less than 100 games in Serie A for Milan and, with his lack of experience, many pundits questioned whether his addition was going to be money well spent for the Magpies.

His desire to stay in Italy would also have been a concern, with Tonali admitting that it has been "difficult to settle in Newcastle" as he prepares for his first competitive return to his homeland on Tuesday.

The Azzurri international admitted in a press conference: "Even on the pitch everything changes, because you don’t feel that feeling, like when you know all the companions and the language, but I have had help from everywhere and from every person."

Tonali - 8/1 to score at anytime on Tuesday - did have some time during pre-season to get used to his surroundings and get to know his team-mates, which is a big reason why he made an impact in the first couple of weeks.

The midfielder scored in the opening game victory over Aston Villa and everything looked rosy in the garden at St James’ Park.

Following that 5-1 success though, Newcastle then lost three league games on the bounce and Tonali lasted just 58 minutes of the 3-1 defeat at Brighton, with a muscle injury said to be the issue.

Injury return on the cards

Having been an unused sub in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Brentford, Tonali is now understood to be fully fit and available to face his former club.

The Azzurri international will be desperate to start on familiar territory, but boss Eddie Howe has a big decision to make on whether the occasion might be too much for the Magpies’ summer addition.

Tonali - who is 13/8 to pick up a yellow card on Tuesday - feels he can deal with the emotional return to face the seven-time European Cup winners.

The former Milan star added: "These are difficult emotions, because this is the team I support and the team that gave me the opportunity to grow. But Tuesday will be something else and I won’t have problems managing myself."

It’s 20 years since Newcastle last played in Europe’s premier competition and a group including Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund looks like a pretty tough task.

Despite their lack of recent European experience, the Magpies are 4/5 to qualify from their group while Milan can be backed at 6/5.

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