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The league campaign continues with the second cross-city derby of the season against HSV on Monday evening (20:30 CET). At the virtual news conference ahead of the game on Sunday morning, head coach Timo Schultz took time out as usual to field questions from the media.

Timo Schultz on...

…the injury situation: "Finn Ole Becker had a few back problems early in the week and was working in the gym but was able to resume full training yesterday. Long-term absentees Christopher Avevor, Christopher Buchtmann and Ryo Miyaichi remain sidelined. Jackson has had another operation and Buchti needs more time. Everyone else is fit and up for the derby."

…choosing the squad: "It's never fun but it's part of the job for coaches and players. As a player, I know I'm in a battle for a place in the starting lineup or the squad. Everyone has a chance to stake a claim during the week. The increased competition for places has had a positive effect on the quality in training and the standard at the weekend, so I'll take having to tell players they aren't going to be involved or aren't going to start."

…the calm before the derby: "This is no ordinary game. We have to remember, however, that people have their thoughts elsewhere at the moment because of Covid. I'm fired up for the derby and so are the lads. Nothing's changed there, but there's no denying there's less hullabaloo surrounding the game. The spark, the emotion and the specialness isn't there without the fans. It isn't just the game, it's all the things going on in the run-up and in the stands during the game that makes the derby so special. Unfortunately, we don't have that during these Covid times."

…his game plan: "We have to make sure we're there from the off, put constant pressure on the ball, are awkward opponents, create a derby atmosphere and get stuck into the tackles. That will be decisive. We'll look to get the ball forward and I don't mind if there are lots of chances and goals. We'll do all we can to win the game."

Coach Timo Schultz is fired up for the derby and really looking forward to the matchup with the neighbours.

Coach Timo Schultz is fired up for the derby and really looking forward to the matchup with the neighbours.

…the defence: "We have to make sure we continue to develop in all phases of the game. It's obvious we haven't managed to bring long-term stability to the defence this season to the extent that we can keep two or three clean sheets in a row. There are several reasons for this. It's a process and we can see some progress, but we aren't seeing it on the pitch at the weekend yet unfortunately. The forwards are the first line of defence and everyone knows the drill. We've played some good and bold attacking football recently and so you have to accept there'll be the odd chance on the break for your opponent. In that respect, we're still trying to get the balance right at the moment."

…HSV's attacking threat: "We have a plan to stifle their attacking power. They're very adept at changing positions and making deep runs. They also have players in the middle and on the wings who are capable of finding answers in one-against-ones with their pace or individual technical ability. It's going to be a tough challenge for our defence and for the team as a whole."

…the favourites tag: "The season is a marathon, not a sprint. In terms of the table, the situation going into the game and the aspirations of the two clubs, then HSV are more in the situation of having to win the game to stay in contention at the top and achieve their goal of promotion. We're enjoying a good spell at the moment. We know that, HSV know that. So we're confident going into the derby. I'm expecting a game between two evenly matched sides with no real favourites."


Photos: Witters