Luca Antonelli has described Riccardo Montolivo as an "essential player" and outlined how much AC Milan will miss the injury-hit midfielder.
Montolivo suffered a knee injury in Italy's World Cup qualifier against Spain last week and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after successfully undergoing surgery.
The 31-year-old is a divisive figure at San Siro, with some fans suggesting on social media Milan are better off without their skipper.
But Antonelli has leapt to the midfielder's defence and has made it clear he will be thoroughly missed.
"I do not want to comment on those who are insulting him on the internet," Antonelli told reporters.
"He is an essential player to us and we will miss him a lot.
"Of course, he is really down now because he really wanted to help the team in this important season.
"I think that with this terrible injury he will not be ready to play before the end of the campaign."