The relationship between Florian Kohfeldt and his striker Niclas Füllkrug goes beyond that of a coach and a player. The 36-year-old Werder coach saw the youngster emerge through the Werder youth ranks and after the match against RB Leipzig he revealed how fond he is of the 26-year-old attacker.
When questioned by the press, Kohfeldt revealed that the striker’s injury during the final training session before the match against RB Leipzig shocked him:
“It was really horrible. Everybody on the pitch knew immediately: Something terrible has happened.”
As the striker was taken off the pitch, Kohfeldt stormed off the training ground. Werder’s coach revealed at Sunday’s press conference that he went straight to the changing rooms to check up on his player:
“I’ve never walked past the fans without giving a single autograph. But, on Friday it simply had to be that way. I needed to be with Lücke.”
The doctors revealed later on that Lücke (Füllkrug’s nickname stemming from the space in between his teeth) hadn’t fared well after his collision with Benjamin Goller. The 26-year-old was diagnosed with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, meaning that he’ll miss most of the season.
Ahead of joining Werder this summer, Füllkrug has been put out of action by cartilage damage on three separate occasions. The striker has missed a total of 543 days of football due to injuries since he turned professional. His current injury will see this number increase by a considerable amount. By the end of his rehab Füllkrug will be close to having missed almost two years of football due to knee injuries.
Florian Kohfeldt revealed yesterday that he visited Füllkrug when he was coming back from his last injury last spring. The 36-year-old Werder coach told the press:
“(I was) sitting in his kitchen in Hannover, telling him: Boy, just keep working, we believe in you. Afterwards he completed a terrific rehab phase, showing tremendous work spirit. And now the whole shit starts over again. It is a difficult, sad moment for all of us.”
Damage control for Werder
Missing a vital player for most of the season is a terrible blow for Werder. However, Füllkrug is far from the only player who has been injured so far this season. After five match days Werder have missed 12 players through injuries. Florian Kohfeldt went as far as stating that the current period is the most difficult task he has been facing as a Werder coach.
The defense in particular has been riddled with injuries. U-23 captain Christian Gross is going to stay with the senior squad until the winter break, mostly out of necessity. With Yuya Osako there’s another vital attacker missing through injury at the moment.
Given that Werder have announced a Europa League finish to be their main goal for the season, one wonders how the club is going to get there given the current situation.
With Niclas Füllkrug now being ruled out and many players still injured for a while longer, it looks like the Hinrunde has become a damage control exercise that sees the team trying to keep its head above water. If Werder fail to collect enough points up to the winter break, the Green and Whites might very well find themselves entangled in the relegation battle after the winter break.
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