By Peter Vice @ViceytheSS
Hertha BSC trainer Sandro Schwarz discussed competitive nature of his race for the two starting XI striker slots at a Thursday presser. The BSC gaffer actually revealed that the spaces have one less competitor this week after Stevan Jovetic returned from the international break carrying yet another injury.
Sandro Schwarz’s “striker puzzle” continues to generate interest in German footballing circles. The recently completed international break ended up giving the Hertha BSC trainer more matters to think about. Jessic Ngankam turned some heads with one energetic performance on international duty. Wilfried Kanga scored a hat trick in a Hertha benefit test fixture.
Schwarz also declared himself impressed with the performances put in from Dodi Lukebakio on Domenico Tedesco’s Belgium national football team. Hertha’s leading goal-scorer helped set up a goal in the team’s European Championship qualification match and started in Belgium’s friendly against Germany on Tuesday.
“We’re naturally happy that Dodi has played two such internationals,” Schwarz noted at his Thursday pre-match presser, “He is back with us feeling confident. Now the next two days of training will be decisive, as then the decision for Saturday.”
Both Kanga and Lukebakio could be considered apt replacements for the slumping Florian Niederlechner up front. Schwarz remained coy about which pairing would be deployed against Freiburg this weekend. The coach nevertheless seemed to be leaning towards Ngankam and Lukebakio, saying that “the national team players will be under close observation in training”.
One player, yet again, will not be available for Schwarz. The congenitally injured Stevan Jovetic returned from international duty with Montenegro carrying a calf injury. Schwarz had been easing the 33-year-old back onto the pitch with four consecutive relief deployments over the last four matchdays. Jovetic scored a lane pull-back goal last round against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.