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Labbadia suggests Nartey will fill in at left-back, declares Tiago Tomas fit enough to start

By Peter Vice   @ViceytheSS

VfB Stuttgart head-coach Bruno Labbadia spoke on the status of his squad ahead of a huge matchup against the record champions this coming Saturday night.
Tiago Tomas.
Tiago Tomas.Photo: Jeollo, Vfb-exklusiv.de, CC BY-SA 3.0
VfB Stuttgart trainer Bruno Labbadia referred to last weekend's surprise loss to Schalke 04 as an occurrence that "happened at the worst possible time" during his Thursday presser. With such words, the club gaffer effectively conveyed his pessimism about the upcoming weekend fixture against German giants FC Bayern München.

Despite the fact that Stuttgart drew Bayern earlier in the year and even took a point off the FCB on last season's penultimate matchday, Labbadia made clear that the team's recent form against the record champs didn't really affect the task ahead.

"Sometimes that can help," Labbadia said of the two recent draws, "It would be great if it did, but there are no guarantees."

Stuttgart must play host the league-leaders without one of their more influential players in recent weeks. Croatian fullback Borna Sosa must serve an accumulated yellow suspension. Labbadia noted that a possible deployment of Hiroki Ito at Sosa's position didn't seem likely as the Japanese defender is struggling with back issues.

Labbadia gave every indication that it would be Danish fullback/midfielder Nikolas Nartey taking over for Sosa. Though that translates to an exceptionally difficult assignment for 23-year-old, the youngster's gaffer did his utmost to talk up the abilities of the young talent.

"He's one of of regular players because he has already helped us in various positions," Labbadia said of the Danish youth international, "He is a strong runner who possesses good technique and can play solid passes. If he gets even more confidence, he can show even more quality."

One spot of good news for the Swabians concerned the return of Portuguese attacker Tiago Tomas. The versatile forward had been out since suffering an abdominal tear in the second round of action back from the break. The 20-year-old returned off the bench against Schalke. According to Labbadia, the scorer of two league goals this year is already fit enough to start.

"He's recovered faster than we expected," Labbadia remarked, "and we're glad about that."

Tomas could possibly start above Chris Führich or Gil Dias - both of whom have shown inconsistent form in recent weeks - slightly behind lead-striker Silas. Tanguy Coulibaly, Luca Pfeiffer, and Thomas Kastaranas are other options for Labbadia on the wings.

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