Feyenoord return to action Sunday looking to defend their hundred-per-cent Eredivisie start at De Kuip against NEC. Since the win at Ajax, Erwin Koeman has done his best to bring his squad down to earth. ‘In a positive way of course,’ says the coach. That said, Koeman has been frustrated with the number of absentees this week, with a slew of internationals on the road and key midfielder Alfred Schreuder on the sidelines. It’s not all doom and gloom however, as Romeo Castelen and new boy John Owoeri are both in contention for a place in the starting line-up.

Castelen last played over a month ago, but there’s ‘every likelihood’ that he’ll be named in Erwin Koeman’s starting eleven against NEC, now that his hamstring injury has cleared up. ‘It’s looking good,’ confirmed Koeman, ‘but I’m keeping an open mind. I’ll see whether he makes the eighteen-man squad on Saturday. There’s every likelihood.’
The same applies to John Owoeri, who may make his debut. Koeman saw the Nigerian in a Feyenoord jersey for the first time in the week when the striker played for the reserves. ‘He made a reasonable impression. It’s a lad with an excellent understanding of the game and a good hard right-footed shot. He can also take a dangerous corner,’ added Koeman, after witnessing Owoeri take the corners on the right-hand side during Friday afternoon training.
Based on that session, it would appear that Castelen will start. Pascal Bosschaart will likely also get his first start of the season, given Ferne Snoyl’s one-match suspension. Shinji Ono will not be in the team however. The midfielder has trained the whole week, but Koeman wants to ease one of his star men back into it. As a result, Ono will be fielded in Monday’s reserve game rather than Sunday’s first-team fixture. ‘He looks fit and is doing well in group training, but training is a lot different from a game,’ says Koeman. ‘That’s why I’ll let him to build up some rhythm in the reserves.’
Preparations for the game haven’t exactly been optimal. The coach was missing almost a full team of internationals for most of the week. ‘It wasn’t possible to train in an specific way with the group,’ admitted Koeman, ‘although I have worked a lot with the guys on an individual basis. The situation wasn’t ideal. But it’s no excuse, because we aren’t the only club affected by it.’
Besides Ono, Schreuder, Snoyl Koeman will be without Tim Vincken, Christian Gyan and Cory Gibbs Sunday.
Feyenoord – NEC
Sunday 11 September, 14:30 at De Kuip
Referee: Braamhaar
How they may line up
Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Östlund, Greene, Bahia, Bosschaart; Ghaly, Paauwe, Pardo; Castelen, Kuyt, Kalou.
NEC: Babos; Nalbantoglu, Wisgerhof, Olsson, Leiwakabessy; Wielaert, Barreto, Boutahar (Takak); Niedzielan, Van den Eede, Tininho.
5/12/2004 Feyenoord - NEC 2-1
17/8/2003 Feyenoord - NEC 2-1
18/8/2002 Feyenoord - NEC 2-0
9/12/2001 Feyenoord - NEC 5-0
21/4/2001 Feyenoord - NEC 3-0
8/5/2005 NEC - Feyenoord 2-0
28/1/2004 NEC - Feyenoord 1-2
16/3/2003 NEC - Feyenoord 1-2
8/9/2001 NEC - Feyenoord 0-3
19/11/2000 NEC - Feyenoord 1-3
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