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LUHUKAY: "WE START FROM SCRATCH AGAIN ON SUNDAY"

Head coach Jos Luhukay today took questions from the Hamburg media at the official news conference ahead of Sunday's home game against VfL Osnabrück (13:30 CET), with victory in the derby and team selection matters attracting the most attention. Among other things, the Dutchman commented on...

...the injury situation: "Apart from Christian Conteh and Christopher Avevor, everyone's available. Waldemar Sobota and Ryo Miyaichi came out of the derby carrying slight knocks but are back to 100 per cent now. We have no problems as far as the squad is concerned. It speaks for the work of my entire team that we've overcome the injury crisis from the first half of the season so well. We've now got we wanted: a bigger squad and more competition."

...a possible return of James Lawrence: "He's trained with the squad all week and left a good impression. We'll decide tomorrow how he fits in with our plans. I'd like to await the outcome of the last two training sessions first."

...the momentum from winning the derby: "It was similar in first half of the season. We've now played away in front of 60,000 fans and that underlines what we've achieved. We start from scratch again on Sunday, though, and need to work on our own strengths to cause Osnabrück problems. The derby can serve as additional motivation and a confidence booster."

...the celebrations after the derby: "I didn't celebrate, but the players did get an extra day off. They came up to me with the request in the dressing room after the game because they might have had a long night in front of them, so we decided it made more sense not to train on Sunday morning. The risk of injury might have been too big with alcohol in the bloodstream. The lads earned the right to party together and it can bring them closer together. The important thing was that we were focused again when we resumed training at the start of the week."

...going with two strikers against HSV: "It was a tactical decision. In the home game against HSV the centre-backs organised the build-up play with the screening player. We neutralised that on Saturday. The threat came mainly down the flanks, but the centre was completely shut down. Credit for that goes to Henk und Dimi against their centre-backs and Waldi against their defensive midfielder. We'll have to come up with something new against Osnabrück on Sunday, though. We've got a fit and fresh squad now and for me the decisive factors are the impressions from training, our most recent performance and the quality of the opposition. That's what determines our team selection and approach."

...the "derby curse": "I have to live with it. Everyone has the right to an opinion, but I don't have any problem with it. It's nice to look back, but I've drawn a line under Saturday's game really. We want to dominate the opposition on our own ground and put in another good performance with the support of our fans. We've no need to doubt ourselves now, but we can't afford to be nonchalant either. We have to make sure we're focused in both directions."

...the difference in results against "big" and "little" teams: "I think we're capable of big performances at home because of the fans and the atmosphere. Whether it's a big team or a small one, it's up to us to cause them problems by playing to our strengths. Osnabrück are above us in the table, so we aren't the big team and they aren't the little one. We have the chance to draw level with them now."

...his central midfield: "Either Finn Ole or Marvin will play on Sunday. Finn Ole might be the slightly better footballer, but with Marvin it's more about his passion and aggression. We have to go with one or the other. That isn't so easy, especially for the players, of course. It's difficult to compare them because they're very different players."

...Henk Veerman's performances: "What matters is that he scores important goals for us, but he has the potential to be even more valuable for us as the first player in our pressing game and as an out ball when we're in possession. Ultimately, it's all about scoring goals, of course, and he does that really well and impressively, but he can still improve nevertheless."

 

Photo: Witters

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