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The Boys in Brown play host to Holstein Kiel in front of another packed house at the Millerntor on Sunday (kick-off: 1330 CET). Markus Kauczinski's side go into the game full of confidence after taking 13 points from their last five games. Only natural, then, that the St. Pauli boss was in upbeat mood at Friday's pre-match press conference.

"To be honest, we needed a bit of time to get Monday's game at Duisburg out of our legs," admitted Kauczinski to begin with. "But the recovery phase finished with this morning's training session. The players are in good shape and the battle for places in the starting lineup is in full swing."

One player out of the reckoning is Christopher Buchtmann, however. "With Buchti's thigh injury it's difficult to say when he'll be able to return to full training, but he's definitely ruled out for Sunday," Kauczinski told the assembled journalists. "Christopher Avevor has a cold but is a candidate for the starting eleven. The decision on whether he plays will be left to him tomorrow. If he's feeling good, he's in. Otherwise, we'll have to think about an alternative. Bernd Nehrig also has the symptoms of a cold and went to see the doctor after training this morning."

Markus Kauczinski said he was expecting an evenly balanced contest, especially as Kiel were very good at pressing the ball when not in possession. "We're ready for every eventuality on Sunday, however. We've practised various attacking options in training, such as two strikers or a playmaker with one up top. I still have a decision to make."

What is certain is that the Boys in Brown go into the game full of confidence. "We're happy, of course, but still hungry," Kauczinski said. "The lads are starting to believe they can achieve something. This sapling is growing and we're nurturing it. The Duisburg game has boosted our confidence but there's no risk of anyone sitting back. A season is like hiking up a mountain, but we're only a third of the way up. The campaign only starts in earnest now."


Photos: Witters