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On Thursday morning, head coach Jos Luhukay faced the Hamburg media in the run-up to Saturday's crunch clash with Hannover 96 (1300 CET). At the pre-match press conference, the Dutchman spoke about...

…Hannover 96: "Hannover started the season as big favourites for promotion. The reality, as far as their position in the table is concerned, is a different one. No one could have expected that before the start of the season. Nevertheless, for me they remain an exceptionally good side with an incredible amount of experience and, above all, loads of individual quality. They had their first game under their new coach on Monday evening which didn't go as well as they'd hoped. They're searching for assuredness, stability and something to celebrate. I'm not judging them by their position in the table, however. I expect them to get back to the level expected of them in the next few weeks and months. Their quality will tell in the end."

…his own team: "For us it will be important to ooze the belief and the confidence to play to our strengths. I am fully confident we'll work our socks off once again in this fantastic atmosphere to leave the field with a win and a feeling of elation after the 90 minutes. We always respect our opponents, but we need to have faith in our own rigorous approach to defending and single-mindedness going forward. We also want to reward our fans again, not just by playing good football but also by getting a result."

…the squad: "We always have about ten players out with injury and Daniel Buballa and Johannes Flum are ruled out. With a bit of luck, we might get some players back before the winter break, but we need to be patient. Nevertheless, we'll still put out a hard-hitting team who will do all they can to win the game. Mats Møller Dæhli is an option for the starting lineup."

…James Lawrence: "He has my full confidence. We've had a chat and analysed the Aue game with regard to his way of playing, his defending and his performance. I'm confident he'll take it on board to work on his strengths and rediscover the stability both he and the team need to defend well."

…difficult refereeing decisions: "We have to accept it. It's so difficult now for referees to cope with all the rules imposed on them and the game is losing some of its charm. First and foremost handball. I find it sad that you have to go into a challenge with your hands behind your back, but that's how it is."

Photo: Witters