Confidence high in spite of Pellè absence

In the run-up to the away game at sc Heerenveen the big question is how Feyenoord will do without top-scorer Graziano Pellè. With the Italian striker suspended, coach Ronald Koeman has to decide how his side will line up. On Friday, Koeman admitted that he had already made up his mind but was of course unwilling to share anything. ‘We’ve tried various alternatives in training, but we’re not going to tell others anything more than they already know.’

Even without the Italian goal-getter Feyenoord travel to Friesland full of confidence. That’s not only due to the club’s recent results, but also last week’s internationals. The Dutch squad included seven Feyenoord players and although they did not all play in the World Cup qualifiers against Estonia (3-0) and Romania (4-0), they did all return to De Kuip in a positive state of mind.

Koeman was especially happy to see his players return without any knocks. ‘Plus games with the Dutch team are obviously good for their development,’ he explained. ‘The more you train at Dutch national squad level the better you become. All told, the past few weeks have been very positive for our internationals.’

The Feyenoord players who were part of the Dutch squad expressed a wish to quickly move on from their international experience when they returned to Rotterdam on Thursday. These are big weeks for Feyenoord in the league, starting with the away game at sc Heerenveen on Saturday evening.

‘They have started moving up the table,’ Koeman said about Marco van Basten’s side. ‘It’s a fact that none of the teams around the top of the table have been able to win at Heerenveen. They even had PSV under the cosh for almost the whole game. Just like in recent weeks, we have to win again on Saturday if we want to stay in the hunt. And we should not take too much notice of what others are doing. Our rivals are all playing on Sunday, so we have to go first.’
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