AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf has explained he paired Michael Essien and Nigel De Jong in midfield against Napoli on Sunday to try the duo ahead of their Champions League clash.
The Rossoneri will be without regular midfielders Montolivo and Sulley Muntari who are suspended when they host Spanish side Atletico Madrid.
Seedorf wanted to give the Ghana international some game time to sharpen for the big test next Tuesday.
Essien, making his debut since moving from Chelsea last month, lasted the entire duration and impressed.
But Milan suffered another chastening defeat after losing 3-1 to Napoli despite scoring first.
"Essien and De Jong played because Montolivo and Muntari are banned in the CL. They need to play together before we face AtlÃ©tico,â€ Seedorf said in a post-match
â€œWe have some important matches coming up, like the Champions League, so I had to conserve some players in that regard.
"I have found some players are not in great physical form and so I am working heavily on that."