Markus Gisdol: “In the mood and excited to get back on the pitch”
And in this game Gisdol can call on nearly all of his options. Only Stefan Thesker (ligament tear in his ankle) is out. Whether or not Sven Schipplock will be involved has yet to be confirmed two days before the game. On Thursday, he was rested out of precaution due to an Achilles problem.
Just as he does in many other positions, Gisdol also has alternatives in attack. “Anthony Modeste did well during the January preparations. He also showed great determination in the game against the ball and had his chances. He's on the right path.”
The manager must make a tough decision though, and namely in the centre of defence. “Niklas Süle, David Abraham and Jannik Vestergaard all perform on a different level. This is a tough decision,“ he explained. “We have a bigger squad than last year.” And for that reason Gisdol is sure that “we will concede fewer goals in the second half of the season than in the first.”
New signing Jiloan Hamad is a part of that bigger squad that will face Nürnberg. “He's someone to consider for the starting eleven,” explained Gisdol before adding, “I'm surprise at how well he has represented himself. The team have really welcomed him.”
Nürnberg under heavy pressure
Despite a host of personnel options and strong preseason friendlies in which Gisdol saw “things that pleased him a great deal”, the manager doesn't expect an easy game on the weekend. “Nürnberg improved dramatically towards the end of the first half of the season and were close to picking up three points on more than one occasion. Gertjan Verbeek's plan is clear to see. And during winter they've continued to develop. They play in a Dutch style and are quite attacking too,” said Gisdol.
The situation at 17th-placed Nürnberg is that they haven't won a game yet this season, something the manager wants his team to seize on. “Nürnberg have placed a great deal on this game. It's a pivotal game for them and that means there's a lot of pressure involved. And that's where we must capitalise.”
Whether Jens Grahl or Koen Casteels will be between the goalposts is something Gisdol refused to be drawn on. “Both performed well during the January preparations. And it's exactly for that reason that we find ourselves in more of a comfortable situation,” said Gisdol. So the fans can look forward to a few surprises in the line-up come kick off on Saturday…