Koeman: ‘We want to pick up the thread from last week’

There was a positive vibe around De Kuip after last Sunday’s win at FC Utrecht and midweek Dutch debuts for Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi. But the enthusiasm was dampened somewhat the day before the first Eredivisie home match of the season. De Vrij was forced out of Friday morning training with an ankle problem and was taken straight to hospital for a scan. ‘Fortunately it showed that nothing is broken, but he is not available against sc Heerenveen,’ coach Ronald Koeman explained on the eve of the game.

The absence of captain De Vrij means that Jordy Clasie will skipper the team on Saturday evening. New signing Joris Mathijsen, whose wealth of experience includes 82 appearances for the Dutch national side, will come into central defence to make his Feyenoord debut. ‘It’s nice to have someone like Mathijsen who can step in for Stefan,’ mused Koeman, who will also have to do without long-term injured pair Mitchell Te Vrede and John Goossens against the Frisians.

A third absentee at the weekend is Omar Elabdellaoui. The attacking midfielder played for Norway U21 in a friendly this week and Koeman feels he needs a rest. ‘We would have preferred to keep the lad in Rotterdam. He is in the middle of Ramadan, so a long journey like that and playing virtually a full game does not help his fitness. The plus-point is that we have a big squad. That being so, I pick the fittest players and that’s what I told the group this morning.’

The game against sc Heerenveen will be the first time Koeman pits his coaching wits against Marco van Basten, a teammate in the Netherlands’ Euro 1988 winning side. ‘I know Marco fairly well,’ said Koeman. ‘He has progressed as a coach, but he has a tough job at Heerenveen. A number of important players have left Feyenoord, but with the departure of Luciano Narsingh, Bas Dost and Oussama Assaidi he has lost lots of goals and lots of quality. That’s not something you can just roll with.’

Koeman is looking forward to his side continuing its good start to the Eredivisie season after the away win in the curtain-raiser at FC Utrecht. ‘We want to pick up the thread from last week.’

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