RARING TO GO DESPITE DEFENSIVE SCARE

Just when Feyenoord looked like recapturing their blistering early-season form, fate hit Rotterdam full in the face. The current keeper’s crisis and an injury to one of the team’s main pillars Kees van Wonderen have put a hole in the Feyenoord defence, but Bert van Marwijk remains optimistic. ‘The rest of the squad look fit and remarkably sharp,’ the coach elucidated on the eve of the Eredivisie encounter with FC Groningen.

Kees van Wonderen is one of those underestimated players whose worth only really becomes apparent in his absence. He’s reverted to central defence during his long tenue at Feyenoord, but the international is a born midfielder, whose build-up play is important to the team. With an Achilles injury keeping him on the sidelines it’ll be interesting to see who Van Marwijk picks as his umpteenth central duo this campaign. He has enough men to choose from at least. The smart money will be on De Nooijer and Paauwe staying where they are and Gyan or Loovens coming in right of centre. Van Marwijk was still hoping that Van Wonderen would come through Friday however. ‘For me he doesn’t even have to train, I’ll still put him in. But only if I can, because we have to be careful with him, bearing in mind the sequence of games coming up.’ On the keeper’s front, it looks like Patrick Lodewijks will play against his old club, despite a skin infection. With Shinji Ono fully recovered from the knock he received at AZ, that means that Feyenoord will line up with ten of the eleven who started that game. A similar score would also go down a treat. 22 February 2003 Holland Casino Eredivise FEYENOORD-FC GRONINGEN Venue: the Kuip Kickoff: 2.30pm Referee: Hugo Luijten Probable teams FEYENOORD Lodewijks (Van Wegen); Emerton, Gyan (Loovens), De Nooijer, Paauwe; Kalou, Bosvelt, Ono, Van Persie; Van Hooijdonk and Buffel FC GRONINGEN Ten Rouwelaar; Elshot, Van Gessel, Schoenmakers, Kruiswijk (Florén); Hugo, Hoogstrate, Broerse; Ikedia, Salmon and Landerl The history 14/10/2001 Feyenoord 1-0 FC Groningen 11/2/2001 Feyenoord 1-0 FC Groningen 1/4/1998 Feyenoord 3-0 FC Groningen 9/10/1996 Feyenoord 3-1 FC Groningen 5/10/1995 Feyenoord 4-1 FC Groningen 3/11/2002 FC Groningen 0-2 Feyenoord 10/2/2002 FC Groningen 0-1 Feyenoord 17/12/2000 FC Groningen 1-0 Feyenoord 28/9/1997 FC Groningen 2-0 Feyenoord 3/11/1996 FC Groningen 0-1 Feyenoord
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