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After an extended week of training three points are at stake again on Monday evening when the Boys in Brown take on home bankers SV Sandhausen (kick-off: 2030 CET). At the pre-match press conference on the eve of the game Olaf Janßen spoke about the match and the opposition.

"Sandhausen are above us in the table," said the St. Pauli boss to open the proceedings. "They've won four out of five at home, all with a clean sheet. We're up against a team who keep things tight and will try to stifle our build-up play. They don't need many opportunities to punish the opposition. We want to win the game with everything we have, but will show them the necessary respect.

"The injury situation is not developing as a coach would want," Janßen continued. "We have a lot of absentees to contend with," reeling off eight the names of eight players who are unavailable for selection in Philipp Heerwagen, Philipp Ziereis, Richard Neudecker, Cenk Sahin, Aziz Bouhaddouz, Marc Hornschuh, Yiyoung Park and Ryo Miyaichi. Despite all the losses Janßen remains upbeat: "It's a challenge but it's nothing new for us. We have depth in the squad and we can cope with it. We have to shake ourselves down and focus only on the next game."

Christopher Avevor was a doubt because of a swollen knee but reported back fit again in time to make the squad. "He resumed full training two days ago and could be an option," said Janßen. "Mats Møller Dæhli is looking good as well and is definitely an option, even though 90 minutes is still unrealistic."

The coaching team have been giving a lot of thought to how injuries such these and the recent ligament tear suffered by Richard Neudecker can be prevented in future. "We've had already 16 players out with injury for four weeks or longer," said Janßen. "That sounds dramatic at first but we've measurably improved in every area, i.e. stamina, pace, power, mobility and coordination. That's the best protection against injury. We'll continue to work on this in the next few weeks to improve our stability even further. It makes little sense to change the intensity in training. We have tackles every week and we have to practise that."

Monday night's game is likely to be another hard-fought affair. No one in the St. Pauli camp has fond memories of the equivalent fixture last season a year ago to the day, which ended in a 3-0 defeat. "That game has nothing to do with the present," said Janßen. "It's a different team now and last season's result is totally irrelevant."

That Sandhausen are doing so well this season is no real surprise for the St. Pauli boss: "It feels as if Sandhausen have always played so steadily. They rarely have anything to do with the relegation battle. They're moved up another notch this season and are switching the play really well. They deserve to be up near the top and have the best defence in the league. That's all you need to say really."


Photo: Witters

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