Wesley Sneijder has recovererd sufficiently from a hamstring injury to be able to play in the quarter final match of the Gatorade Cup against sc Heerenveen on Thursday. ,,But only in hindsight, you can say whether he really is fit. You never know how Wesley reacts to 90 minutes under any circumstances you can think up'', said coach Danny Blind during his usual meeting with the press.
If Sneijder returns to the lineup, Klaas Jan Huntelaar is expected to play as the team's striker. The mid-season signing will then try to get his first goal for Ajax against his former club. That would mean Angelos Charisteas will lose his place in the lineup. ,,Angelos knows this'', said Blind, who won't reveal his lineup until matchday. ,,We discussed this with him around the time of Klaas Jan's transfer and Angelos handles that well. I am pleased with the way he played as a substitute against Twente and also with the way he played last Sunday.''
The pecking order among potential left backs is less evident. Urby Emanuelson has fully recovered from a period of fatigue and minor injuries and has to compete with Juanfrán, who played one of his lesser matches on Sunday. Blind is faced with a difficult choice, he admitted. ,,Urby wasn't left out of the squad on the basis of his ability. He is now fully fit and last Sunday was the first time that I really had to make a choice. As a human being I had trouble with having to tell Urby he wouldn't start, but not as a coach.''
Blind once again emphasised the importance of the Cup match against Heerenveen. ,,This is the shortest way to a trophy. That way is nowhere shorter than in Holland.'' The winner of tomorrow's match in the Abe Lenstra stadium qualifies for the semi final. Winning the national Cup would soften the pain of a difficult season for Ajax. The championship is out of reach, Blind reiterated. ,,We have to look beyond that. I have joked before: long live the playoffs. Through that system, we can still qualify for the Champions League. In that light, nothing has changed in what we still can attain. We just shouldn't take it too lightly.''