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Two days before the visit of FC Heidenheim (kick-off: 1830 CET) Ewald Lienen took time out to speak to the Hamburg media. The 63-year-old began by commenting on the injury situation before turning his attention to Friday's opponents.

"We came out of the game against Fortuna Düsseldorf with a few injuries," said Lienen. Question remarks remain over the availability of Bernd Nehrig (bleeding in the sacroiliac joint) and Jeremy Dudziak (dislocated shoulder), neither of whom has resumed full training yet. "Jerry and Bernd will have fitness tests and then we'll see if they're able to cope with the exertion of playing," revealed Lienen. Captain Sören Gonther (blow to the calf) also returned to Hamburg with a knock. "Sören is not feeling the injury anymore and has been able to train without any problem. Everyone else is fit apart from Joel Keller, who is ill," said Lienen.

His team go into the game on the back of three successive victories but needed to go behind against Düsseldorf before waking up and going on to win 3-1. "We haven't covered ourselves in glory in footballing terms recently, but that's not the point," said Lienen "These games are battles for survival where picking up points are what it's all about. At Düsseldorf we also fortunate in that they weakened themselves," he added, referring to the two red cards for Fortuna players.

Nevertheless, Lienen recognises that the team has come on in recent weeks. "The lads are ready to give their all," he said. "We've had the right attitude and energy and that's the foundation. It's not always about putting in good displays." Asked whether two wins from the last four games will be enough to guarantee the club's second-division status, Lienen said: "It makes no sense whatsoever to think about how many points we need to stay up. We have to focus on ourselves and take each game as it comes. Making projections is counterproductive and a waste of energy. The task is to win the next game."

Friday's visitors come to the Millerntor seventh in the table. "Heidenheim have had a difficult second half of the season in terms of points," said Lienen. The Swabians may have added just 11 points to their tally since the turn of the year, but Lienen urged caution: "Heidenheim are an established side – both in defence and in attack." The boss also found words of praise for Heidenheim skipper Marc Schnatterer. "He's at the heart of everything they do. With his bite and attitude he goes into every game as if it were his last."

Lienen picked out Heidenheim's flexibility on the flanks as their main strength and demanded uncompromising commitment and aggression from his charges. "We're prepared for anything on Friday and know we'll have to give our all if we're to stay on track."


Photo: Witters