Before the away game against 1. FC Cologne on Saturday (15:30 CEST), head coach Marco Rose gave his thoughts on...
...the squad’s fitness: Jonas Hofmann (in rehab training after internal ligament tear in his knee), Lars Stindl (also in rehab training after tibia fracture) and Torben Müsel (arthroscopic knee surgery) will not be available through injury. Matthias Ginter also suffered a rib injury during the international break so we'll have to wait and see how he responds to the workload in the next two training sessions, but we’re hopeful that he’ll be available.
...the meaning of the derby: I have already been told how important the game is, especially to our fans. There’s a special feeling surrounding the fixture, even a couple of weeks in advance. There will be a lot of talk about the derby before the game so I will try to take it all in, knowing that on Saturday, we have a duty to deliver our best possible performance.
...the upcoming opponent: Under their new coach, Cologne play in a slightly different system, having made plenty of new additions in the summer. They’re an incredibly physical team, especially up front when they play with both Modeste and Cordoba, and they’re very aggressive in midfield as well.
...his expectations heading in to the game: It's a game unlike any other that we’ll play this season; it has a completely different flavour to it. There’ll be an extraordinary atmosphere in Cologne and we have to be able to cope with that. I expect a very intense game against a highly motivated team that will want to be on the front foot playing at home, so we’ll go there looking to show that we can hold our own, play football and in the end, win the game.
...who will play as the number six: Denis Zakaria has many strengths and he is incredibly important to our game. He has worked hard in the first few matches and has shown himself to be in excellent shape. However, we also have other guys who bring other skills to the table that are just as important to us. Tobias Strobl is feeling really good again and is ready to play, and Christoph Kramer is back fit too so we have several options that the coaching team and myself will have to discuss ahead of the game.
...Ramy Bensebaini’s fitness: It’s completely understandable that Ramy hasn’t played for us yet. He started training several weeks after all the others and he had just three weeks to prepare for the international break. Nevertheless, he has been in the squad several times and we feel he’s up to speed now so he’s an option for us.
...the possible return of Lars Stindl: After such a serious injury, you can’t put a fixed timeline on his recovery. He has to continue his rehabilitation process step by step and sometimes that can involve stagnation or even taking the odd step backwards. At the moment Lars is out on the pitch quite often, but he’s still at the individual rehab training stage. We hope that we can slowly integrate him into team training over the next few weeks, but even then it will take a while. The most important thing is not to put pressure on him and to be patient.