Germany: Bundesliga
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By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Letsch addresses Bochum fullback crisis

Ahead of a critically important match in the relegation battle this weekend, VfL Bochum trainer Thomas Letsch answered questions about his crumbling fullback situation at a Thursday presser. 
Completely dissatisfied with the first-half play of fullbacks Danilo Soares and Cristian Gamboa last weekend against Gladbach, VfL Bochum trainer Thomas Letsch yanked both of the wide players in his back-four at the restart. Konstantinos Staylidis came on in place of Soares whilst Saidy Janko replaced Gamboa. Letsch noted that he did appreciate the improved play from the two subs during the second 45 whilst speaking at his Thursday presser, but no one watching the game necessarily felt that either replacement did a particularly good job.

Sent back down to a direct relegation spot last weekend, the pressure grows on the Revierklub as they attempt to avoid being relegated back to the second division. The 1848ers welcome FC Augsburg this coming Saturday one week after Enrico Maaßen's Fuggerstädter finally snapped a seven-game winless run with a 1-0 upset win over 1. FC Union Berlin. Augsburg can effectively clinch safety with a win. Bochum, as much as Letsch wished to play down the danger, could be in serious trouble if they lose.

FCA trainer Maaßen has his own personnel problems. Lead striker Mërgi Berisha remains questionable with injury. First choice keeper Rafal Gikiewicz remains out. Two starters from Maaßen's previous XI, midfielder Arne Engels (suspension) and attacker Ruben Vargas (season-ending injury) must be replaced. As precarious as Maaßen's personnel puzzle is, it isn't anywhere near as perilous as Letsch's. The VfL trainer must find in-form fullbacks. All players he's deployed at the position as of late - including winger Jordi Osei-Tutu - have proven ineffective.

The two fullbacks, Letsch conceded, were not a peak form either physically or mentally. Costa Rican Gamboa hasn't been able to settle into a rhythm since returning from injury. Whilst praising Soares' technical ability, the club gaffer noted that the Brazilian was making far too many mistakes. In Letsch's words, Soares was allowing overthinking to "pull him into a negative vortex".

Letsch dropped strong hints that he would probably give his makeshift successful fullback Dominique Heintz the go over Soares on Saturday. The 29-year-old is perhaps the only actor who has enjoyed some success at the left-back position. Letsch also guaranteed a start in midfield for Philipp Förster. This is necessary due to injuries to Osei-Tutu, Patrick Osterhage, and Moritz Broschinski.

"This is a huge opportunity to improve our situation," Letsch said of the match, "The season doesn't all come down to this, but it's an exceptionally important match."

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