Erwin Koeman got the handshaking over with quickly on his 45th birthday and got down to the order of the day when he met the press a day before the KNVB Cup tie at Veendam. The cup game is the first of four in ten days for Feyenoord, including a Uefa Cup tie with Lokomotiv Sofia next Thursday. The goal is clear according to Koeman. ‘We have to win twice in the league, get through in the Uefa Cup and reach the next round of the Cup tomorrow. The future will look a lot brighter then.’

One player Feyenoord will start without Thursday is Angelos Charisteas. The Greek is still troubled by his groin. Koeman hopes to welcome the striker back against Excelsior on Sunday but even that is not certain. Fortunately, Pierre van Hooijdonk is available after shaking off a groin strain of his own. Big Pete withstood full training on Wednesday. ‘There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong now,’ confirmed Koeman, who is also without Ron Vlaar and Romeo Castelen as Feyenoord look to reach the next round of the cup.

Another one who is unavailable is Léonard. The Belgian left back has been working on his fitness and put in a full ninety minutes in a reserve game on Monday, but Koeman still feels that there is room for improvement. ‘He was hardily tested during the game,’ says the coach. ‘I can see he’s not fit in training. So he’ll have to put in a good day of training tomorrow. He may be involved on Sunday, but I’ll have to see. Otherwise there’s the option of playing him a day later in the reserve game between Feyenoord and Ajax. I won’t bring him in too early whatever happens, because I don’t want to want run the risk of him picking up an injury as a consequence.’

Henk Timmer will be between the sticks in Veendam. The keeper could certainly be apportioned some of the blame for two of the goals conceded in Sofia and Eidhoven, but Koeman confirms that Timmer will play after a meeting between the two on Tuesday. ‘He knows he has to do better and that is an important point for me, because not everyone recognises that themselves. Henk is confident in his own ability, which is a good thing.’

Given Léonard’s unavailability André Bahia is likely to start at left back, which opens the door for Karim Saidi in the centre of defence. The Tunisian started his first game in a Feyenoord shirt in over a year last Sunday at PSV.

BV Veendam-Feyenoord
Thursday 21 September, 19:45 at the Langeleegte stadium

Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Greene, Saidi, Bahia; Lucius, Buijs, Hofs, De Guzman; Kolkka, Van Hooijdonk.

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