Leon Vlemmings has a lot more players to choose from ahead of Sunday’s match at De Graafschap. The caretaker coach sees three experienced internationals return to the fold for the encounter, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Kevin Hofland all missed last week’s game in Amsterdam, but are expected to start at De Vijverberg at the weekend. As a result, Sunday’s side will be quite a bit different from the one that went down to Ajax.

Tomasson and Hofland return to their familiar positions in midfield and defence respectively, while Van Bronckhorst is set to start at left back. Theo Lucius moves to right back, replacing the suspended Dwight Tiendalli.

‘It’s nice to have these three lads back,’ said Vlemmings Friday afternoon at De Kuip. ‘It would be nice to have them back for a protracted period, so we can get some routine into the team. I hope to be able to continue to train with a bigger squad, so I can make some selection decisions.’

Due to the many absentees, a large number of talented youngsters have been given a chance in the first team in recent months. Needs must, but in the opinion of Vlemmings they have warranted selection in their own right. ‘They have done very well and prove that Feyenoord has a good youth academy. They are players we can fall back on in the future.’

As the queue to the treatment room thins out some of them will have to take a step back. But Vlemmings is not worried they will take it badly. ‘We’ve talked with them and they are very realistic about it. It can only be good for the future of Feyenoord that we have these type of lads to call on if needed.’

De Graafschap coach Henk van Stee has tried to put the pressure on Feyenoord in the media this week. Vlemmings responded with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. ‘I have to laugher a little when Henk says that for us it’s a must-win and for them only a like-to-win. If you ask me they need the points just as much. Anyway, it’s clear we have to beat Graafschap and we want to beat them too.’

These are crucial weeks for De Graafschap coming up. The Doetinchem outfit will have to work hard to avoid the drop. Bottom club FC Volendam have battled to within two points of coach Henk van Stee’s side, which has really put the pressure on.

The side looked like doing a good bit of business last week in The Hague. ADO found themselves down to ten men early in the game and De Graafschap tried to profit from their numerical advantage by pushing forward. But the home side turned out to be a tougher proposition than Van Stee and co would have hoped, snatching the only goal of the match to secure all three points.

The ADO experience demonstrated once again De Graafschap’s problems in front of goal. Just 15 goals in 23 games is a sorry return and by far the lowest in the division.

The club acknowledged the problem in the winter break, drafting in Israeli youngster Ben Sahar on loan from Chelsea. The early signs were good, as Sahar’s strike claimed all three points in the home game against Willem II when the Eredivisie restarted in mid-January, but that has proved to be the 19-year-old’s only goal thus far.

Goals have been sparse in the cup too. A penalty was needed to tame FC Dordrecht in the fourth round – FC Twente await in the quarter final. There is almost a whole league between the clubs but while Steve McClaren’s side are riding high in the league only a late spot kick from Blaise N’kufo saved a point for the Enschede outfit when the sides met two weeks ago.

Van Stee will be hoping his men can pull off a similar performance against Feyenoord. It would be the first time De Graafschap have ever done the double over the Rotterdammers.

De Graafschap – Feyenoord
Sunday 22 February, 14:30 at De Vijverberg stadium

Referee: Blom

Timmer; Lucius, Bahia, Hofland, Van Bronckhorst; El Ahmadi, Tomasson, Fer; Slory (Wijnaldum), Makaay and Biseswar.
De Graafschap: Heijblok; Nalbantoglu, Keller, Buijs, Fränkel; Oost, Jüngschlager, Meijer, Wuytens; Sahar and De Jong.


09/02/2008 De Graafschap - Feyenoord 1-3
04/02/2005 De Graafschap - Feyenoord 2-7
05/04/2003 De Graafschap - Feyenoord 3-4
25/04/2002 De Graafschap - Feyenoord 1-0
01/10/2000 De Graafschap - Feyenoord 2-3
07/12/2008 Feyenoord - De Graafschap 1-3
04/11/2007 Feyenoord - De Graafschap 2-0
15/08/2004 Feyenoord - De Graafschap 6-1
21/09/2002 Feyenoord - De Graafschap 2-0
15/09/2001 Feyenoord - De Graafschap 2-0


De Graafschap entertain Feyenoord for the 17th time in the history of the Eredivisie. The hosts have won just one game in that time. Feyenoord were victors ten times.

Serginho Greene could make his 200th league appearance (Eredivisie and second tier).

The first ever encounter between the clubs was one to remember. On 7 October 1973 Feyenoord won 5-7.
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