Roy Makaay’s enforced six-week layoff with an ankle injury has left Bert van Marwijk with a conundrum going into the business end of the season. Feyenoord need as many points as they can get in the last six games to book a place in the top five but the coach is under no illusions. ‘Survival has been the name of the game for us for quite a while now.’

A full treatment room has been a dominant feature at De Kuip in recent months. Just when you think it cannot get any worse, someone else gets injured. All told Van Marwijk will be thankful he still has enough players to fill in Saturday’s team sheet.

The loss of Makaay means that he most pressing problems are in attack. Chun-Soo Lee, Andwelé Slory and Tim Vincken are all far from match-fit or even training with the group. With Nicky Hofs also battling a knee injury Van Marwijk is left with three recognised attacking players in his squad Jonathan de Guzman, Michael Mols and Luigi Bruins.

That has prompted the coach to call A Junior team players Hanne Hagary and Luis Pedro into his squad for the visit of VVV. The two frontmen trained with the rest of the first team a coupe of times this week, which gives Van Marwijk a few more options. It gives them time, says the coach ‘at least to get used to what’s expected of them when they play at De Kuip’.

Mols is likely to lead the line against Feyenoord’s relegation-haunted opponents Saturday evening. That will change the Rotterdammers’ style of play a little, confirmed Van Marwijk the day before the game. ‘Michael is a different type of striker, he holds the ball up better. He does need to have movement around him. It’s important he gets it from players like Bruins, De Guzman and Landzaat.’

With defender Tim de Cler set to sit out the game due to suspension, only the midfield is likely to remain unchanged compared with the team that took on AZ. Van Marwijk has expressed his satisfaction with the midfield of Landzaat, Van Bronckhorst and Sahin. ‘We are now playing with a deep central midfielder and tactically it worked very well against AZ. It went well against NEC too, despite the 1-3 defeat. It balanced the team up.’

Coaches of (less successful) clubs sometimes tend to blame finances every time they get beat. ‘Based on our budget we should be sixteenth, so our current fourteenth place is better than expected,’ and suchlike.

Finances are not the be all and end all though, as VVV are showing this season. The Venlo-based outfit have the second lowest budget in the Eredivisie – only Excelsior have tighter purse strings – but it has only spurred them on to be creative in the transfer market. This summer’s signings were players with everything to win by performing well in the Eredivisie. Of the new arrivals, only Ken Leemans, Paul Jans and Jason Oost had any real experience of top-flight football.

Danny Wintjens is a typical example of the other newcomers. The keeper was brought in from Heerenveen without managing a single official appearance for the Frisians. At VVV though he soon became first-choice goalie and he’s has already been worth a few points this season.

And what about Nordin Amrabat? The striker was playing for Omniworld amateurs two years ago; next season he’ll be defending PSV’s colours.

VVV had to take some gambles and it’s not surprising that some of them haven’t paid off, but coach André Wetzel feels that no ore than a couple of lads will ultimately not make the grade.

Feyenoord – VVV-Venlo
Saturday 14 March, 20:00 at De Kuip

Feyenoord: Timmer; Lucius, Greene, Hofland, Bahia; Landzaat, Van Bronckhorst, Sahin; De Guzman, Mols, Bruins
VVV: Begois; Mampuya, Reekers, Verdellen, Blondelle; Jungschläger, Linssen, Oost, Fleuren; Soltani, Ofrany

16/01/1994 Feyenoord - VVV-Venlo 5-0
26/01/1992 Feyenoord - VVV-Venlo 5-1

09/12/2007 VVV-Venlo - Feyenoord 0-0
27/10/1993 VVV-Venlo - Feyenoord 1-1
06/09/1991 VVV-Venlo - Feyenoord 0-1
Feyenoord Business CLub