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Hürzeler: "Continue our process and stay on our path"

FC St. Pauli go to fifth-placed Hannover 96 on Sunday (13.30 CET) looking to add another three points to their second division tally. In the run-up, head coach Fabian Hürzeler took time out to field questions from the media at the pre-match news conference.

Fabian Hürzeler on…

...the loss of defensive leader Eric Smith: "Eric's a key player for us – not only in terms of his personality but also for our system – but I'm convinced we have very good depth in the squad and players who make very good replacements. He missed the games against Hertha and Nürnberg as well and Hauke Wahl moved into the centre and did very well. We'll find a good solution. I have great confidence in my players and am convinced we'll be able to deal with it."

...the personnel situation as a whole: "Lars Ritzka could only run yesterday and we're taking things day by day. Carlo Boukhalfa still has a hip problem, Sören Ahlers a knee problem. Etienne Amenyido was ill but trained again yesterday. Simon Zoller is in recovery training and Scott Banks is making progress. He'll be able to return to full training next week hopefully. As for the alternatives, Adam Dźwigała is fit, and David Nemeth is always an option. We'd find a good alternative for Lars as well."

...dealing with the recent setbacks: "There are troughs as well as peaks in every season and you have to get through them. That's the challenge and we're addressing it. People on the outside always make a big drama out of it. I read something about a loss of identity. I personally draw a lot of motivation and energy from it. For me it's an incentive to work even harder and reflect even more intensively. We're going to continue our process and stay on our path. We have to re-emphasise what's made us strong and get that into the players' heads. If we do that, I'm convinced we'll come out of this together as a team. It's about learning and getting back up and never giving up. We'll keep doing that to the end."

...opponents Hannover 96: "We're up against a top side. They probably aren't very happy with their results, but they've only lost one game in the second half of the season. They have enormous power, not only in terms of the players they have, but also in the way they play. They try to press high and with intensity, especially with their full-backs, who defend forward really well. They have an excellent backline, which you can see from the stats, which say Hannover have the best defence after us. They're very good in attack as well, though. They'll push us to the limit. We're going to Hannover to show a positive reaction and put in a successful performance."

...the mental factor in the run-in: "The head always plays a role. I've been saying that all season. The key is to control your head and your thoughts. Certain doubts and fears are human. You have to allow that. If you look at the difference between an average team and a top team, the question is how long you dwell on the doubts and negative thoughts and how quickly you get back to the positives, exude confidence, turn the frustration into excitement, and show the desire to respond on the pitch. It's always important to us that we stay true to our style and continue to play football. If you stay focused on your strengths, you can shrug off the mental question bit by bit."

Photos: Witters