VfL head into Saturday’s home game against FC Schalke 04 (kick-off 18:30 CET) with a heavily depleted squad. The Wolves’ ever-increasing injury list was the main topic of conversation at Thursday’s pre-match press conference, but head coach Labbadia refused to dwell on his side’s personnel issues, instead stressing the need for “a cohesive team performance” against the Royal Blues.
“It’s actually easier to talk about the players we have available than the players who are out of the reckoning,” said Labbadia, who will be without Admir Mehmedi at the Volkswagen Arena. The Switzerland international is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a torn tendon in his foot. Josip Brekalo (concussion), Divock Origi (calf) and Daniel Didavi (dead leg) - who has been unable to take part in first-team training this week - are all unavailable, while Josuha Guilavogui is suffering from a back problem which has “worsened” since Wednesday. However, Labbadia has not yet given up hope of the 27-year-old featuring against Schalke.
Camacho on the mend
Ignacio Camacho, whose last league appearance came nearly five months ago, is the only long-term absentee to have trained regularly with the first team of late. John Anthony Brooks and Marcel Tisserand have been unable to take part, but Felix Ohis Uduokhai is gradually being reintroduced to first-team training. Jakub Blaszczykowski, meanwhile, has been “swaying back and forth between training and rehabilitation”, according to Labbadia, who is hoping to have some of his key performers back in action for the final stretch of the campaign. “Considering the nature of their injures, it would be wrong of me to pin my hopes on them in the coming weeks,” conceded the 52-year-old.
Hard work key to success
Under the circumstances, the Green-Whites’ starting eleven for Saturday’s clash almost picks itself. “Our only chance is to approach the game as a cohesive and committed team unit,” said Labbadia. “Without hard work, nothing will function properly. That’s the only way to be successful.” The VfL boss has also been holding talks with Under-23 coach Rüdiger Ziehl in case he needs to bolster his matchday squad with players from the Wolves’ reserve side.