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Two days before the visit of FC Kaiserslautern head coach Ewald Lienen looked ahead to the game and took questions from the Hamburg media.

Lienen will have a largely unchanged squad to choose from on Friday. "The same players are sidelined," he said. "Besides Jan-Philipp Kalla and Philipp Ziereis we'll also be without Christopher Buchtmann." The St. Pauli boss will also be without Maurice Litka, Jeremy Dudziak and Brian Koglin due to illness plus reserve goalkeeper Svend Brodersen, who called in sick on Wednesday.

The 63-year-old remains optimistic despite the long list of absentees, however: "I'm buoyed by the work with the players. Everyone's working to the limit, including the coaching team. That's a prerequisite if we want get back to winning ways, but so far we haven't managed to play two top halves of football. Our aim has to be just that, though. There can be no more excuses. Everyone can run and fight, and we need to do that from the first minute."

Asked whether the players were practising their shooting after failing to score at the right end recently, Lienen said: "We always practise our shooting. But not shooting and not hitting the target is not what it's about. It's about creating the opportunities to shoot, but we always work on that in training as well. It's also vital that we defend well and battle to win the ball."

One team who have demonstrated how to climb out of the drop zone are this Friday's visitors. "Kaiserslautern are a good example of what can be achieved if you stick together, stay patient and work hard," said Lienen. The Red Devils have won three matches in a row followed by two draws since matchday 10. "The table isn't very encouraging for us at the moment but in football things can happen very quickly."

Responding to the question whether Dennis Rosin was an option following the loss of Christopher Buchtmann, Lienen said: "Dennis did a good job against Heidenheim, so why shouldn't we continue with him in the side? He showed courage, made himself available, distributed the ball well and kept the game moving nicely."

What can be done to turn things round, then? "We're trying to bring about a change on the behavioural level – that applies to all of us, to me, and to the work with the team," the 63-year-old said. "When you're in crisis, you can take the decision to change personnel, of course, as was the case with Olaf Janssen and Thomas Meggle. But the point of all that must be to bring about the necessary change on the behavioural level. Unfortunately, we haven't managed that yet, but we're working on it!"


Photo: Witters