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By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Toppmöller speaks on playing prospects of Skhiri, Larsson, and Ekitiké ahead of Hoffenheim

Ahead of a crucial Sunday clash against fellow European aspirants TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt head-coach Dino Toppmöller expressed the hope that they key players might be ready for the starting XI. 

After snapping a long winless skid against Heidenheim in the league last week, Dino Toppmöller's Eintracht Frankfurt will be hoping to cobble together some momentum with another win against European competitors TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at home this coming Sunday. The atmosphere at Deutsche Bank Park is expected to be especially vibrant as the club commemorates the 125th anniversary of its founding.

Speaking at his Friday presser, Toppmöller noted that - following last week's win - the general mood at training this week had been much improved. The SGE trainer declared that his team had "laughed and relaxed" a great deal more. The atmosphere was further boosted by solid training sessions turned in by the crucial midfield duo of Hugo Larsson and Ellyes Skhiri.

Injuries have precluded Skhiri from starting since match-day 22. Larsson has been absent from the starting blocks since round 21. Both players made their return off the bench in last week's victory. The fact that both of them could once again be fit enough to start together would make a huge difference. Toppmöller noted that, despite some respective set-backs, it looked to be the case that the duo would slide into his preferred system.

"They complained of some problems yesterday," Toppmöller noted at his Friday presser, "It's nevertheless desirable that they will play from the start and we act on the assumption that this will be so. It's not 100 percent decided amid the question marks."

Another player struggling with fitness issues - newly acquired French striker Hugo Ekitiké - also turned in a positive training week. The 21-year-old asked not to be included in Toppmöller's XI last week due to lack of stamina. This became apparent during the round 23 draw with Wolfsburg; when Ekitiké struggled to keep up during his inaugural Bundesliga start.

"We had hoped that the Wolfsburg game would get him up to speed," Toppmöller remarked on Friday, "but we still have to be patient. Hugo cut back a little bit on Wednesday and trained a little less with the lads yesterday and today. He's still struggling with the intensity in training."

After noting that the club "didn't wish to risk injury" with Ekitiké, Toppmöller still declared that he was optimistic about the striker's playing prospects should be be able to keep up in the squad's final training session on Saturday. In general, per the SGE trainer, the team was in "high spirits" and looking forward to the Sunday fixture.

"We want to give ourselves and our fans a birthday present," Toppmöller concluded, "We want to build on this momentum. It's about utilizing the energy in the stadium to play a good game."

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