Hoffenheim beset by injuries and COVID, Leipzig get Adams and Poulsen back
By Peter Vice @ViceytheSS
The two clubs contesting the final fixture of the 2021/22 Bundesliga's 29th matchday had very different sets of injury/availability news to report on Friday afternoon.
Hoeneß will also be without Kevin Akpoguma, David Raum, and Kevin Vogt on accumulated yellow-card suspensions. As if the loss of those three defenders wasn't enough, the fulcrum of his back-three is out. Florian Grillitsch picked up a muscular injury in training. According to Hoeneß, the Austrian will likely miss out next week against Fürth too.
Kraichgauer captain Benjamin Hübner was presumably set to be available after serving his own yellow-card accumulated suspension last week, but Hoeneß divulged that his skipper continued to be plagued by back problems and could not play. Stefan Posch, Pavel Kaderabek, and Robert Skov--three players returning from either COVID or injury--might not be fit enough to play from the start.
"My notepad is full," an exasperated, yet still chipper Hoeneß remarked at his Friday presser, "I've had to write down and remember everything. We'll have to figure out how to compete with ten outfielders, a goalkeeper, and probably five subs."
"We will compete," Hoeneß was quick to emphasize, "I can promise you that. Let us surprise you. We'll shake it off and travel to Leipzig with a relatively small squad. I always approach things positively."
The timing of these multiple absences could not come at a worse time for the TSG trainer. After two consecutive losses in the league, the Sinsheimers are seeing their hopes for European football next year fade away. Currently in sixth place on 44 points, a loss against fourth-placed Leipzig would put the UCL places permanently out of reach.
In terms of the defensive, Hoeneß can be grateful that American center-halve Chris Richards returned for a long-layoff last week and looked to be strong. The gaffer--in light of all the absences--might even be tempted to double-down on Americans in his defensive corps, giving Justin Che his long-awaited starting XI debut alongside his countryman.
Richards and Che might get a chance to face the USMNT captain on the other side of the pitch. Leipzig trainer Domenico Tedesco's injury news was much better. At his own Friday presser, Tedesco declared that midfielder Tyler Adams would once again be available after a thigh contusion forced him to sit out the last two fixtures.
Tedesco also claimed that striker Yussuf Poulsen was also fit enough to feature again in the squad.
The RB head-coach dispelled any notions of team fatigue on the tight turnaround from Thursday's Europa League fixture.
"After an awesome game," he noted, "we still have a rhythm."