Leverkusen - FC Köln

Germany: Bundesliga
Leverkusen L. Bailey (5), M. Diaby (51), L. Bailey (76)
FC Köln

Injuries mount ahead of Funkel's Köln debut

By Peter Vice

New 1. FC Köln trainer Friedhelm Funkel's "rescue mission" wasn't an easy task to begin with. Matters get more difficult still as the injury updates roll in. 

Ismail Jakobs.
Ismail Jakobs.Photo: GEPA Pictures/Sven Sonntag

Germany's relegation-threatened cathedral city club has little margin for error should they wish to play in the top flight next season. A string of six not-at-all-easy fixtures begins Saturday with what promises to be a tough fight against regional rivals Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Saturday.

Despite dropping a crucial match against FSV Mainz 05 in what proved head-coach Markus Gisdol's final game in charge last Sunday, die Geißböcke turned in one of their better performances all season. A enormous factor in the improved play related to the return of long-injured actors Florian Kainz and Sebastian Andersson.

Andersson's return provided a huge boost to the Domstädter. Persistent injuries have the kept the Swedish attacker out of the lineup most of the season, forcing Gisdol to play without a striker in the vast majority of his matches. Unfortunately, it looks as if Funkel must face the same problem.

The 29-year-old sat out team training on Wednesday. Local newspaper Kölner Express reports that the very same knee problems that have kept Andersson on the sidelines are flaring up again. Funkel confirmed as much.

"He regrettably still has these [knee] problems," Funkel noted in a press-round, "I hope he can do something on Thursday. If not, it will naturally be difficult. I haven't given up hope yet."

One player whom Funkel can give up hope on is winger Ismail Jakobs. After twisting a ligament in his ankle on Sunday, the 21-year-old has been definitely ruled out for the weekend.

"We need Ismail precisely because of his speed," Funkel lamented, "but he had to take a break for the time being."

Funkel retains options despite Jakobs' absence, though it doesn't appear as if Marius Wolf is one of them. The on-loan Dortmund man may be forced back into the right fullback role after Kingsley Ehizibue continues to recover from a concussion sustained in Sunday's loss.

The club's new trainer, again, expressed the hope that the right-back could potentially return to training before the week is out. The fact that a Friday return is planned doesn't bode well for a Saturday deployment.

Funkel cannot rely on oft-used replacement Ondrej Duda to serve as his ersatz-striker as the Slovene is suspended on his fifth yellow card.

1Lukáš Hradecky
16Tin Jedvaj ↩46
5Sven Bender
12Edmond Tapsoba
19Moussa Diaby ↩73
20Charles Aránguiz (C)
25Exequiel Palacios ↩46
18Wendell ↩57
11Nadiem Amiri
9Leon Bailey ↩83
14Patrik Schick
21Lennart Grill
13Lucas Alario ↪83
38Karim Bellarabi
4Jonathan Tah ↪46
6Aleksandar Dragović
22Daley Sinkgraven ↪57
23Mitchell Weiser
30Jeremie Frimpong ↪46
10Kerem Demirbay ↪73
FC Köln
1Timo Horn
19Kingsley Ehizibue ↩70
33Sebastiaan Bornauw
5Rafael Czichos
23Jannes-Kilian Horn ↩70
28Ellyes Skhiri ↩79
14Jonas Hector (C)
31Marius Wolf ↩85
13Max Meyer
11Florian Kainz ↩70
43Emmanuel Dennis
16Ron-Robert Zieler
2Benno Schmitz ↪70
3Noah Katterbach ↪70
22Jorge Meré
15Dimitris Limnios ↪85
20Elvis Rexhbecaj
21Salih Özcan ↪79
24Dominick Drexler ↪70
25Tim Lemperle

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