FORTUNA SITTARD-FEYENOORD, FRIDAY 19 APRIL, 8.00 PM

The championship seems out of reach, but there’s still valuable points for the taking to secure Champions League football next season as Feyenoord travel to Sittard to take on the Eredivisie’s basement club Fortuna. The Rotterdammers will be hoping for a good Friday in Limburg, although everything is relative: defeat for the home side will condemn them to first division football. So stakes is high.

Fortuna’s mini revival of late means Feyenoord will have to be completely focussed in the poorly named Wagners and Partners Stadium. Unfortunately, coach Van Marwijk will have to do without no less than ten squad players against his old club, including first choices like Robin van Persie, Bonaventure Kalou and Paul Bosvelt. Ebi Smolarek, Glenn Loovens and Leonardo dos Santos will also miss the encounter, which also comes too soon for a host of others too numerous to mention. Personnel problems aside, Bert van Marwijk was not letting things get him down at his regular press conference. ‘I saw the international programme and I knew things could get difficult. And they will, because among the players that are available for selection, there are also a lot who are not so fit.’ That is a perfect description of people like Ferry de Haan and Patrick Paauwe, who are not totally tip-top after recent injuries and illnesses, but whose presence is required. Paauwe is even expected to start. Add to that the likes of Johan Elmander, Tomasz Rzasa, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Said Boutahar and Civard Sprockel who all came out for their countries at various levels in midweek and it soon becomes clear that tiredness may become a factor against Fortuna. The situation has led Van Marwijk to reinforce his squad of players with Ferne Yue-Ting-Chiung, just turned 17. The left-footed Ferne is suited to a place in midfield and even attack. ‘He has developed very well, but it’s mainly out of necessity that I’ve brought him in.’ The inclusion of Yue-Ting-Chiung and the return of Sprockel and Boutahar in the squad means that more than one of Friday’s substitutes won’t be able to vote in next month’s general election. ‘And the game is going to be played after their bedtime too,’ Van Marwijk joked. ‘I think they’ll have to take their place on the bench in their jammies.’ The only person who disturbed the trainer’s good mood this week was referee Jan Wegereef, and his attempts to justify his gaffe last week versus PSV. ‘I heard his clarification during the week and I had a good laugh. I don’t think a man like Wegereef realises the affect he has on the club and so I think it’s strange that there are to be no consequences for him. Because if you make a mistake as a player or a trainer you’ll be punished. Not referees, although they are very well paid now. That’s wrong. And what’s more: normally over the whole season some things go for you and some things go against you, but those scales have really tipped against us this year. If I just look at the top games against Heerenveen, Ajax and PSV, then you have to say that referees have had too much influence on the way the league has gone.’ PROBABLE TEAMS FORTUNA SITTARD Hesp; Emeran, Akerboom, Dirkx, Hermans; Meszaros, Landerl, Haeldermans; Hamming, Gerritsen, Claudio FEYENOORD Zoetebier; Gyan, Van Wonderen, Paauwe, Aros (Rzasa); Elmander, Emerton, Ono, Leonardo; Tomasson (Korneev), Van Hooijdonk
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