Football’s not something that has been at the top of the agenda at De Kuip this past week. But after the Uefa’s decision on Thursday Erwin Koeman was finally able to focus on the game with the ball when he faced the press on Friday afternoon. Not that the Feyenoord coach had a great deal to smile about on the injury front ahead of Sunday’s tussle with near neighbours ADO Den Haag. Koeman has lost another two players in the past twenty-four hours.

The biggest drag was the news that Patrick Lodewijks would be going under the knife. His meniscus injury has failed to mend with rest, so the decision has been taken to go down the surgical route. The keeper will not be available until the other side of the winter break, although his age is an extra factor that may delay his return. Karim Saidi is expected to come back much sooner, but he may find himself troubled by his knee longer than he would like or expect. The Tunisian international was carried off the training pitch on Thursday after picking up a knock to his knee. ‘The annoying thing is that he’s already had this injury,’ says Koeman, who was unable to say whether Saidi would return after the match against ADO.

There was also good news on Friday, although it will have little impact on the match against the Eredivisie’s bottom club. Sherif Ekramy is close to enough to taking his place on the bench after months of suffering on the sidelines with a shoulder injury. Sunday comes too early for the Egyptian, but coach Koeman expects to have him available seven days later. Ron Vlaar may even make a surprise appearance in the squad against ADO Den Haag, although if he does make the cut he isn’t likely to be the first in line to come off the bench.

Angelos Charisteas will start the match, as he targets his first goal at De Kuip. The Greek is certainly unhappy with his productivity, and he’s likely not the only one, although Koeman is not expressing any concern about his target man’s lack of goals. ‘It’s affecting him; that much is clear,’ says Koeman. ‘I spoke with him about it. It’s not just his fault; it has to do with the service he gets. I have complete confidence in him. I don’t feel any pressure to play him. I think he’s a good striker and I’m completely confident that things will come good.’

Danny Buijs is back from a suspension and is eligible to play Sunday. Looking further ahead, Koeman expects to take long-term treatment room regulars Romeo Castelen and Alfred Schreuder on the club’s winter break to Turkey.

In The Hague there was really only one goal this season ahead of the opening of the club’s new stadium: survival. But with fifteen matches on the clock the pace is starting to show. Coach Adelaar has already left and the club are bottom of the table.

The squad looks to have enough quality on paper, with players of the calibre of Vreven, Bunjevcevic, Knopper, Bosschaart, Mols, Bodde, Delorge, Tininho, Rankovic, Bakkati, Postma, Den Ouden, Hakansson and Kolk. Bad luck has played its part. Keeper Stefan Postma broke his leg early in the season, leaving ADO with a choice between two rookies in Josh Wagenaar and Robert Zwinkels. The result has been a rather nervy back four, although the keepers themselves cannot shoulder much of the blame for that given the experience elsewhere in defence.

The issue may even by a surfeit of experience at Zuiderpark. Michael Mols is still wonderful to watch, but he’ll be ending his playing career when summer comes. And Stijn Vreven was labelled as the team’s Achilles heel by NEC coach Mario Been last week. He’ll surely be gunning to prove Been wrong over the remainder of the season.

Feyenoord – ADO Den Haag
Sunday 10 December, 12:30 at De Kuip
Referee: Blom

Feyenoord: Timmer; Greene, Bahia, Drenthe; Lucius, De Guzman, Hofs, Buijs; Kolkka, Charisteas, Huysegems
ADO Den Haag: Zwinkels; Vreven, Saavedra, Bunjevcevic, Tininho; Knopper, Bodde, Delorge, Bosschaart; Mols, Kolk


26-03-2006 Feyenoord – ADO Den Haag 0-2
22-5-2005 Feyenoord - ADO Den Haag 6-3
7-12-2003 Feyenoord - ADO Den Haag 4-1
12-1-1992 Feyenoord - FC Den Haag 3-0
25-11-1990 Feyenoord - FC Den Haag 0-2

18-12-2005 ADO Den Haag - Feyenoord 2-1
19-12-2004 ADO Den Haag - Feyenoord 2-0
15-2-2004 ADO Den Haag - Feyenoord 2-2
13-10-1991 FC Den Haag - Feyenoord 1-4
5-5-1991 FC Den Haag - Feyenoord 0-2
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