Ajax will have to play without Joël Veltman in Saturday’s game against Heracles. The defender has a muscle injury, as Erik ten Hag said during Friday’s press conference.
Besides Veltman, everybody returned healthy from the interland break. Edson Álvarez is still suffering from jet lag, but that shouldn’t be a problem for Saturday, according to Ten Hag.
Noussair Mazraoui scored his first goal for Morocco against Burundi on Tuesday, but did leave that match early. Nothing to worry about, says Ten Hag. “He’s available for Saturday.” The coach also shared that David Neres has undergone surgery. “David is now in rehabilitation.” The Brazilian player is expected to return after the winter break.
'We can’t afford to let anything go, so we will be playing with our strongest possible line-up’
Eiting in the selection
Ten Hag announced that Carel Eiting will be in the selection for Saturday’s game. “Carel started really well in the pre-season, but then he fell to the sidelines, unfortunately. He’s been medically fit for several weeks now, and he’s built up some rhythm with the Ajax Reserves. He’s getting fitter all of the time. Now he’s ready to take on the competition.”
First Heracles, then Lille
The coach doesn’t want to consider any experimentation leading up Wednesday’s Champions League game against Lille. “It’s all about Heracles. We’re going to do everything we can to beat them, and after that we’ll think about Lille. We need to win the championship, each and every game is important, and we can’t afford to let anything go. So obviously, we’ll be playing with our strongest possible line-up.”
Games following the interland period are always tough, admits Ten Hag. “We’re aware of that, those are the facts. The guys are playing with other teams, with different styles. Their reflexes become a bit different, or even very different in some cases. Experience has shown that it always takes some time to return to our mindset, playing style, and reflexes.”
'Elements from abroad have been brought in, such as fitness. This team can play for 90 minutes'
Ajax has only defeated Heracles once in the past two seasons. “I think they are performing above expectations”, says Ten Hag about the Eredivisie’s number 7 team. “Their coach (Frank Wormuth) has a clear vision. He’s been successful with this for almost eighteen months. Their style of play is somewhat un-Dutch. Elements from abroad have been brought in, such as fitness. This team can play for 90 minutes.”