Bellarabi set for comeback – Bender and Volland ruled out

Ahead of the first home match of 2017 on Sunday (15.30 CET) against Hertha Berlin at the BayArena, that is the last game in the first half of the current Bundesliga campaign, there are changes in the Werkself line-up. Lars Bender and Kevin Volland are still not match fit but it looks better for Stefan Kießling. The Black and Red camp is eagerly looking forward to the return of Karim Bellarabi.
© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

"The injury list hasn't improved as much as we hoped before the winter break," said Roger Schmidt in view of the current personnel situation. At the training camp in Orlando it looked very good for Lars Bender and Kevin Volland. "But Sunday’s game has come too early for both of them," explained the coach. While Bender has completed parts of full training, Volland is currently suffering with a back problem. It's looking much better for Kießling: "Kieß trained today but there is slight uncertainty of how he will react."

The whole club is particularly looking forward to the wizard on the wing Karim Bellarabi making his Bundesliga return for Leverkusen as Roger Schmidt emphasised: "Karim is in very good shape. It does us all good to have him back in the squad." Sporting director Rudi Völler took the same view early on in the week: "Great pace used to be important but these days it’s decisive – particularly against deep-lying opponents. So we're very happy that Karim is available again with all his power and tempo. That key was often missing in the first half of the season."

Roger Schmidt is expecting an exciting match against third-placed Hertha Berlin: "Hertha have been playing at a very high level over the past year and a half. This match will be a very tough challenge for us. We have to make sure that we focus on the discipline we showed over the winter break. They are very compact and good on the counter-attack with their fast players. We need a certain amount of patience and have to focus on our own game to make sure we don't give anything away."

Bayer 04 Bayer 04 expect a crowd of 27,000 including 1,300 from Berlin. Ticket offices will be open on matchday. 

Comeback on the mike

The new voice at home games at the BayArena will be a familiar one: Klaus Schenkmann, who handed over the role of stadium announcer after 15 years at the start of the season to Thomas Wagner, presenter of the Morning Show on Radio Leverkusen, returns to the mike for the match against Hertha Berlin. Schenkmann, who gave up his role at the Werkself last summer for professional reasons, now has greater capacity enabling him to return alongside Pitti Dahl in his stadium announcement duties at the BayArena.

Klaus will head for the Schwadbud after the final whistle against Hertha: Schenkmann will join Bayer 04 defender Jonathan Tah and Werkself fan Benjamin Liebig (Fan club 'Bismarck 122') at 18.00 CET to analyse the game against the team from Berlin.

© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

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