TREATMENT ROOM GRADUALLY EMPTYING OUT AHEAD OF HERACLES

Gertjan Verbeek appears to be getting his players into shape just at the right time. Feyenoord went into the Johan Cruijff Shield last week with 12 injuries, but Jonathan de Guzman, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Leroy Fer are all expected to return to the squad for the season opener at Heracles Sunday. The first two would go straight into the starting line-up, confirmed Verbeek Friday.

The coach also revealed that Theo Lucius, Andwélé Slory and Kevin Hofland are all improving fast. Hofland will not take part Sunday as a precautionary measure. Verbeek does not want to test the player on an artificial surface, which would expose him to unnecessary risks. All three are expected to play in a reserve game in the foreseeable future though.

With Ron Vlaar joining Hofland in the treatment room, Verbeek is likely to name Denny Landzaat in central defence again. The coach was happy with Landzaat’s performance there in the Johan Cruijff Shield last week, despite Feyenoord having only trained in that formation once ahead of the game.

Although a bunch of players remain unavailable, Verbeek said Friday that his side would be going for the win at Heracles. ‘Like we did last week too. It’s not a matter of us having to minimise the damage at the moment. Last week we didn’t manage to win and I thought that was a pity, because it was a trophy. But we’ll always go for the win.’

Verbeek did devote some time to the question of his keepers Friday. Sherif Ekramy’s loan deal leaves the club with just two keepers, because third choice Stefan Toonen has made a sudden switch to PSV. ‘I was very surprised when I heard that,’ admits Verbeek. ‘We have a mutual arrangement with Ajax and PSV that we won’t chase each other’s players. That does not seem to be valid anymore. I can understand it from Toonen’s point of view, he didn’t have a professional contract here, but I cannot understand it from PSV’s.’

THE OPPOSITION

Since debuting in the top flight, Heracles has ended the last three seasons in the Eredivisie on or around 14th place, which has kept them out of the relegation playoffs. That’s quite a feat, although the artificial surface in Almelo has played its part. With that in mind, Heracles are looking forward to pulling off another shock or two at Polman Stadium this time round.

As always of course, it’s difficult to assess how Heracles will do before a ball has been kicked. This time around, that’s been compounded by the fact that no fewer than ten players have been added to the squad from the club’s own youth development programme. The main goal for Heracles this season remains unchanged mind: to stay out of the bottom three for the fourth time running.

The results have not been especially promising in preseason. The first two games against amateur sides did end in victory, but a third against ACV finished 4-4, while Turkish Süper Lig outfit Sivasspor won in Almelo. Most recently a combination team from the local area got within a goal of their Eredivisie opponents.

EREDIVISIE
Heracles Almelo - Feyenoord
Sunday 31 August 2008, 14:30 at Polman Stadium
Referee:
Luinge

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Heracles:
Pieckenhagen; Breukers, Maertens, Wuytens, Klavan; Bajer, Fledderus, Quansah, Douglas; Everton and Van den Bergh.
Feyenoord: Timmer; Greene, Landzaat, Bahia, De Cler; Wijnaldum, De Guzman, Van Bronckhorst, Bruins; Tomasson and Mols.

STATS
HOME
02/12/2007 Feyenoord - Heracles Almelo 6-0
27/08/2006 Feyenoord - Heracles Almelo 0-0
27/11/2005 Feyenoord - Heracles Almelo 7-1
AWAY
23/02/2008 Heracles Almelo - Feyenoord 3-3
15/04/2007 Heracles Almelo - Feyenoord 4-1
29/01/2006 Heracles Almelo - Feyenoord 0-4

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