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Head coach Markus Kauczinski took time out on Good Friday to talk to the Hamburg media about the key clash against SV Sandhausen. Among the topics covered were his side's league placing, Sunday's opponents and the injury situation.

Kauczinski is in no doubt about the situation his team find themselves in going into the game against Sandhausen. "We know what's at stake," he said. "The players are handling it well. Half the league are in a relegation scrap at the moment and that includes us. We realise have something to make up for after last week's game at Kaiserslautern."

Commenting on Sunday's opponents, he said: "We're up against a strong-tackling opposition. Sandhausen keep a very compact shape but also have good individual quality. That's the message we've been conveying to the players." For all his respect for Sandhausen, however, Kauczinski made an important point. "It's down to us and how we play," he said. "We need to find the right mix between physicality and cleverness."

In addition to the long-term absentees, Bernd Nehrig and Luca Zander will miss out on Sunday. "We'll have to wait and see as far as Bernd is concerned. He may be able to resume full training next week, but for Luca it could take a little longer." On the positive side, Aziz Bouhaddouz, Mats Møller Dæhli and Thibaud Verlinden have all returned from international duty unscathed. The fact that Christopher Buchtmann is an option for the squad again is also pleasing. As for Lasse Sobiech, it will depend on how well he comes through training after his brief absence. "If someone can't play, someone else will slot in for him," said Kauczinski. "As a coach I'll be glad to have to make tough decisions again in future."

Kauczinski continued: "I'm looking forward to the game. With the support of the fans, who can give us a big push, of course, we're out to take all three points. We didn't have the knife between our teeth at the start of the international break, but we've revved things up going into the game and sharpened our senses."


Photo: Witters