Rays of hope for the centre of defence
Hack returns from quarantine, Niakhaté to take full part in training – the state of the squad as preparations for BVB get underway
After the charity game against 1. FC Kaiserslautern on Saturday to raise money for victims of the floods in Rheinland-Pfalz, where eight Zerofivers were off with their national teams, head coach Bo Svensson gave his team two days off before returning to work to start the week on Tuesday morning. The squad turned their focus to the upcoming away game at Borussia Dortmund on Saturday (15:30 CEST).
Svensson took eleven first-teamers and seven U19s to the charity game, which took place in Koblenz. “The lads that were there showed they can do well,” commented the head coach after the game, considering the performance of the youth players and praising Anderson Lucoqui, who played an unfamiliar position alongside Stefan Bell in the centre of defence. “We wanted to let Aarón play in the position he feels most comfortable in, and I think Andy did a good job in his place. He was calm and thought about the tackles he made,” said Svensson, who added: “We’ll have to wait and see whether it’s a solution going forward. I need to watch what I say here because at the moment, we seem to have a habit of losing centre back options.”
Niakhaté rested in Koblenz, no decision yet on St. Juste
Moussa Niakhaté (thigh), Jeremiah St. Juste (shoulder) and Alexander Hack (Covid-19) have all been out recently, the three centre backs’ injuries causing a lack of personnel in FSV’s defence. There are some rays of hope, though: Niakhaté made his comeback in the final 15 minutes of the game against Union Berlin, not being risked in the charity game. “He’s an important game for us. We’ve weighed up what’s best for Moussa and came to the decision that it would be best to leave him at home,” explained Svensson, making it clear that the main priority for the Frenchman this week would be to “do everything he can and get fully fit”.
The story with fellow defender St. Juste is somewhat less clear, after he sustained a shoulder injury in the game against Union Berlin and is now in discussions with the Zerofivers’ medical staff to find the best way to deal with the injury. Svensson expects a decision his defender to be made in the course of the week, and will hope for a speedy return from the Dutchman, but still knows that “It’s not an easy injury to treat”.
Hack “feeling good”, Kohr banned for BVB game
After contracting Covid-19, Alexander Hack is on the road to recovery, his quarantine ending last Friday. “Everybody experiences this illness differently. Our medical assessments show that he’s in a good position, but it’s one thing to be healthy and another to be able to play football,” said the Mainzer head coach on the 28-year-old, who has worked hard in the last few days “to have a chance at being ready for selection this weekend”.
One player who will certainly not appear in Dortmund is midfielder Dominik Kohr, who is suspended following his sending off for two yellow cards last time out against Union Berlin. Bo Svensson and his coaching staff do still have alternatives to select, though. “We have good players in our ranks and we’ve put the squad together in such a way that we can compensate if players are unavailable,” emphasized Svensson. “We have players who are hungry and waiting for their chance.”