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At Friday’s pre-match news conference ahead of the home game against SV Sandhausen this Sunday (1330 CET), head coach Jos Luhukay talked about the opposition and their strengths as well as his side’s injury problems and how he intends to deal with them. Luhukay on...

... SV Sandhausen: "They’ve started the season well. That may have come as a surprise to a lot of people, but they’re well organised and have their own style. They’ve been really difficult to beat so far and aren’t fifth in the table for nothing. That’s very respectable and we have to take them seriously. We have to play our own game from the off and create the chances we need to get a result."

... Sandhausen’s impressive wide players: “Dennis Diekmeier is a very dynamic full-back who loves to attack. We have to think about who can do a job for us pushing down the wing while also getting back to cover Diekmeier when he gets forward. Sandhausen are very attack-minded in the two wide positions and try to generate lots of pressure, so our flank players will also have to focus on tracking back and not solely on attacking. They’re very dangerous down the wings and in Kevin Behrens have a centre-forward who’s excellent in the air. They also like to get three or four players apart from Behrens into the box, so it’ll be important to stop them getting the crosses in."

... returning to the Millerntor: "I’m obviously happy we’re playing at home in front of another sell-out crowd. We’re hoping for a great atmosphere. It’s not so long ago that we had an amazing atmosphere and a festival of football here. We want to carry that on now in our next home game against Sandhausen."

... the injury situation: "Eleven players are ruled out, so the squad’s not as big as it is without reason. Our long-term absentees Philipp Ziereis and Henk Veerman aren’t ready yet. The others who can’t play are Christopher Avevor, YiYoung Park, Aurel Loubongo, Dimi Diamantakos, James Lawrence, Luis Coordes, Luca Zander and Cenk Sahin, while Youba Diarra is suspended, so that makes 11. A decision on whether Christian Conteh will feature in the squad or even start will be taken today or tomorrow. He still wasn’t back to 100 per cent during the week."

... the loss of Diamantakos and Lawrence: "They’re two players who are difficult to replace. I hope we won’t feel that on Sunday. Dimi has obviously been valuable with his presence, goals and assists, like last week, for example, when he beat several players and teed up Ryo for the goal. James Lawrence has made four appearances for us and we haven’t lost four times. The worst thing is that the team had been developing more and more. James has ensured our build-up play from the back has been good and the stability is back in our play. Leo has also grown in stature alongside him. That partnership has been broken up now and we’ll probably have to field another two centre-backs who haven’t played together before. James has a muscle problem and will have an MRI scan on Monday to determine whether he can play against Nürnberg or not. Dimi will be out for two or three weeks."

... alternatives for the starting lineup: "Daniel Buballa has played in central defence two or three times recently but I want to leave that open. We have two training sessions left. I’m in two minds and won’t make a decision about my central defenders until after the final session. Against Sandhausen it’s going to be extremely important for us to have stability and a certain assurance in our build-up play. For Dimi, there are two options in Viktor and Borys. Borys is back from a slightly longer injury lay-off, while Viktor has been with us the longest of the new signings. He hasn’t started for us yet either. They are two totally different strikers and again I want to use today and tomorrow to make up my mind."


Photo: Witters