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After the first training session of the 2019-20 season on Sunday morning, head coach Jos Luhukay took time for questions from the assembled media. The Dutchman spoke about..

…the physical condition of his players: "We've had our sports medical examinations over the last two days and will continue tomorrow. We now have to step things up from day to day and from warm-up game to warm-up game to ensure we're in better shape on the opening day of the season."

…possible new signings: "We have to look at every part of the team and it's still a work in progress. The transfer period doesn't close for another two months and a lot can happen in that time. As a coach, you want the squad to be sorted early and everyone to have been involved for long enough, of course, but we aren't putting ourselves under any pressure timewise. We aren't doing nothing, we're actively looking – but we'll only sign a player if it makes sense and adds to the quality we already have."

…the DNA of his team: "Mentality beats quality. But there's no point in talking about a philosophy unless every player is willing to go to the limit from the first minute to the last."

…the quality of Bundesliga 2: "I'm not of the opinion that it's the strongest second division of all time this year. When I went up with Gladbach in 2008, there were seven or eight top sides in there and we came through. This season, of course, there are four big clubs with more options than us. We belong in the chasing group and are focusing on ourselves. We want to take the fans with us and offer them something by playing our type of football."

…his stated aim of achieving promotion with St. Pauli in the next two years: "I'm an open and direct person who says what he thinks. Going up in two years is the personal dream I'm chasing, but I said that when I was unveiled. In the final six weeks I always had fewer players at my disposal and it wasn't clear that Stuttgart and HSV would be playing in the second division either. Looking ahead to next season, it will be important for us to get close to our best form."

…his side's susceptibility to injuries: "It's incredible that St. Pauli haven't managed to play consistently well for an entire season in the last three years. For this reason, our main focus will be on getting the lads through to the opening day without any injuries. It's difficult to set concrete targets when most of your players have played no more than 15 or 16 matches, but we're pursuing an idea of how we want to play football every day. It's important to have fit players for that. Recently, we've always had four, five, six, seven, eight players out injured. It's a disaster."

…the return of the long-term absentees: " It's difficult to define a timeframe. We need to gradually step up their workload and then see how they react to that. At the moment, I can only listen to what the doctors and physios have to say. Obviously, we hope the players will be able to play a full part in pre-season."

…the youngsters training with the first team: "The players who were involved today (Christian Conteh, Leon Schmidt (both Under-23s) plus Aurel Loubongo-M'Boungou and Leon Flach (Under-19s) will train with us next week as well. On Monday, we'll decide whether the lads come to training camp with us or not. We want to monitor the situation from week to week and get to know the players better. It's often been the case with me that such players have ended up in the first team. Having the lads with us is very positive. They now have to work on bringing their standard up to the level of the second division."

…the new captain: "I'll name the captain myself. I want to see how the players develop in the first four weeks. A captain should come to the fore in that time." 


Photos: Witters