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Markus Kauczinski was in a good, confident mood at the press conference ahead of Saturday's game at FC Ingolstadt (1300 CET) today. The head coach fielded a range of questions from the assembled media representatives, speaking about the injury situation, the opposition, and the pre-match preparations.

"We'll have to wait and see whether it'll be a top game," Kauczinski said. "At any rate we're up against the second experienced promotion-chasing side in a row. The players are aware of that and know how tough it's going to be, but they're determined to battle hard, show what they can do and, if possible, take all three points."

Cenk Sahin and Thibaud Verlinden are highly motivated, too, though neither will be involved on Saturday. The Turkish midfielder is sidelined by a muscle strain, while the Stoke loanee is being eased back in gently following his concussion. A question mark also remains over Luca Zander. "Luca trained for the first time today since bruising his neck," said Kauczinski. "It was OK, we're monitoring his progress daily." The 47-year-old is not worried if Zander is ruled out, however. "Yiyoung Park gave a decent, dependable performance against Nürnberg," he said. "He provided a lot of bite. I'd have no problem playing him. He's a genuine alternative."

Whoever takes the field at Ingolstadt will know what to expect. The home side have recovered from a shaky start to the season and are a force to be reckoned with. "Ingolstadt are very flexible and have lots of options. They have good individual quality and in Patrick Ebert added a strong attacking player during the winter break," said Kauczinski, urging caution about the team who came down from the Bundesliga last season, while providing a prescription for how to beat them at the same time: "We need to show the same attributes as against Nürnberg on Monday and are looking for a solid, strong-tackling and aggressive performance."

The St. Pauli boss has yet to make a decision on his formation. "I'm in two minds", he admitted. "The lads did well against Nürnberg. It might be down to freshness in the end. I'll go with my instinct a bit there. We've worked on tactics and substance today, and in the team talk we'll address what's going on in the hearts and minds of the players after the 4-0 defeat in the reverse fixture."

Photos: Witters