Last Wednesday's win over Heidenheim took us one step closer to promotion.. On Matchday 31, VfL will be heading southwards again. On Monday night (kick-off 20:30 CET) Thomas Reis' team will take on SV Darmstadt 98. Ahead of the match there was the usual Q&A session at this week’s press conference.

Thomas Reis on…

…the squad: Manuel Riemann has successfully undergone surgery and was already back today. I hope for a quick healing process to have him back at the start of the pre-season at the latest. Soma Novothny has done some individual training due to muscular problems. Vasilios Lampropoulos is still recovering while every other player is fit to play.

…changes to the starting line-up: We have to wait and see. Of course, we have a slightly longer recovery, but still it is another week with midweek fixtures. We’ll have to wait and see how the players can cope with the increased  workload. We have numerous sprinters in the squad which makes recovery very important. So there’s a chance to change some things. The team performed quite well in defence. We have another two training sessions, after that I’ll think about the line-up, I have two different options in my head.

…the game against Darmstadt: If I knew how things were going, I’d be one step ahead. This league is so even, but we’ve reached a good position. In the Heidenheim match you could see that nuances can be crucial sometimes. Just look at the first round match against Darmstadt. They improved their defensive play already in the centre. Kempe does amazing free-kicks, Dursun scores many goals. We are thinking about how to stop them. But so do they. We are looking forward to the game.

…the duel between Armel Bella Kotchap and Serdar Dursun: It’s not the only important duel. We also have Maxim Leitsch, who will be involved in some tackles as well, it depends on Serdar Dursun’s position. Could be another tough game for him, just remember the first leg match. Top class opposing players are important for the own development. But he’s not the only player, Darmstadt has several quality players and they need to be stopped.

…the promotion that is within the reach: Before our match in Paderborn, Hamburg stumbled, but then we stumbled ourselves as well. We want to rack up another win in Darmstadt, because we have a direct influence on that. After the game we can have a look at the table. Sure, the situation can release some extra energy. But it must not end in a certain arrogance as we have not reached our goal yet.

…Patrick Drewes: For sure, he is a different kind of player as Manuel Riemann. But we put our trust in Patti, the lads directly involved him. So I have absolutely no worries about that. He’s a brilliant goalkeeper, this is his time. In Heidenheim he has already proved his skills, and I’m sure he’ll even improve his performance. He can commend himself for the future.

…the arranged quarantine training camp: It has always been a thought of the German Football League, and it has become even more seriously in the recent weeks due to the numerous Corona infections and quarantines within the clubs. Initially we will focus on the upcoming two games. In my opinion it is the right decision, we are supporting the plan. So we are able to even minimize the risk of infections. We were quite lucky to have almost no incidents, only at the beginning of the season. We accept it when we’ll have a bigger chance to finish the season that way. We want to realise our dream and are glad to keep on playing.

…the small number of injuries during the season: I don’t think it is only by accident. We have our thoughts within the coaching staff, try out many things in order to prevent. The steering of the training is highly important, like giving one more day off to keep a clean mind pays totally off. Also successes make minor injuries disappear a bit quicker. This year the whole staff is doing a great job, which is very helpful.