Hein Vanhaezebrouck is again struggling with staff shortages in the run-up to a duel at Cercle Brugge: “I have never experienced this before”

“It is not as we had hoped”, Hein Vanhaezebrouck kicked off his traditional press talk on Friday afternoon. “Despite a week without midweek football, we still have some doubts. It remains to be seen until tomorrow who will eventually be fit enough to make the selection. Then we’ll see who will start on the bench, be on the field, or not qualify at all. There are still a few”, sighed the Ghent coach, who has often had to deal with a high injury burden this season.

For example, Vanhaezebrouck also had to visit Cercle Brugge for the away game with a very small group of players in preparation: “We also have to wait and see. We trained for a whole week with thirteen to fourteen field players. At the end of the week with a little more, with the critical cases. These are a few crucial cases, which may or may not be usable.”

“The injuries, there are several explanations for this”, Vanhaezebrouck reflected on the many injuries in Ghent. “The taxability of some is one of them. We knew that too. That excessive load certainly plays a role: that is due to the small core and the loss of some. As a result, you have to continue with players who cannot carry such a high load. In addition, there are also some who were unable to train enough before they rejoined.”

At Ghent, they nevertheless really went looking for causes: “We even looked at our training field: a hybrid field. Now we also train on a different field,” said Vanhaezebrouck, who also realizes that certain players have really reached their limits in recent months. “Some also dropped out five or six times. If the tax goes up a bit, then that goes along with it. I don’t blame anyone, but this year I experienced an unprecedented situation. I have never experienced this since I started as a trainer in 2000.”

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“However, we managed the load well. We certainly didn’t train too hard, because we played so many matches. Last year there were even more. We also saw four leave in the meantime, while we only got two boys. Salah, we were very happy with that. Malick has done that really well at times, even though he’s only 17. That’s where it ends. Nevertheless, we continued to fight for a European ticket.”

And so the Buffalos visiting Cercle Brugge have to keep their chances of European football intact: “They are a challenger, but not the biggest or only contender. Standard also has the objective of harassing us. Their coach hopes to play the final here. We hope that it will be decided sooner, but I cannot imagine that they have already thrown in the towel at Westerlo.”

“I think they also want to collect points at Westerlo. We are in the best position, but now we also meet an opponent who is not the easiest. It was also because of us that we had such a hard time against them the last few times. If we lose, everything is open again. If we win, it will look great. However, it is still too early to say that the cards are laid. Everyone can still participate in the race and it is clear that Cercle Brugge and Standard still want to go fully along.”

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