Schmidt: ‘Kieß needs another couple of sessions’

Head coach Roger Schmidt took time out after the game against Hertha Berlin to analyse the current state of play.
© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

In a relaxed meeting with members of the media, he not only gave his impression of the first competitive match for his team in 2017 but also talked about the development of several key players, the current state of the injury list and how the Werkself have overcome the problem with penalties.

Roger Schmidt...

...on the injured players: "Lars Bender has done well in training over the past few days. Now we hope he's turned a corner and will soon be the key factor in our game once again. As things stand, Kevin Volland will be back for the game on Saturday - and hopefully that will apply to Stefan Kießling too. Both are in full training but Keith needs another couple of sessions to get back to the level he showed in the Mainz game. That's how we all want to see him! Charles Aránguiz was involved in a collision with Joel Pohjanpalo in training. And that normally hurts. We hope he'll be able to train again on Wednesday."

...on Aleksandar Dragovic: "He picked up a slight thigh injury against Hertha and he will miss Saturday's match. That's a great shame as Drago has been in great form recently. You have to remember that he only joined us later on in the summer. And we haven't had that many opportunities to train given the busy fixture calendar. So it took him time to get used to our game. At the winter training camp he did show he's a top player."

...on Chicharito: "He will score again. We’re all convinced of that. The first half of the season did not go to plan for him or the team. You could see that he was concerned about events off the pitch. Spending the festive period with his family in Mexico, followed by a holiday with friends, did him good. We saw a completely different Chicharito from the first day in Orlando. His work in every session at the training camp was sensational, he was focused and his body language was completely different. We saw that in Sunday's match against Hertha – even though he didn't manage to score."

...on Ömer Toprak: "We all believe Ömer will leave in the summer. There was an offer last summer but the move didn't happen. However, that did not affect him either on the pitch or in the dressing room. Other players might have thought about a move in the winter but that does not appear to be the case with Ömer. He's been here since 2011 and he wants to enjoy the final six months at Bayer 04 and that's how he's approaching games."

...on practising penalties: "Penalties aren't generally practised in the Bundesliga. But after the four missed spot kicks in the first half of the season, I didn't just want to say: 'There's nothing you can do about it.' It's actually a very simple task – to some extent comparable with the free shot at basketball or a field goal in American football. Our sports psychologist Christian Luthardt has looked at those sports and says the top players always take exactly the same approach to make sure they are focussed. Clear thinking is important and that's what we've made our players aware of in training. Hakan put that into practice on Sunday. He was decisive, focused and he put the ball away with confidence."

...on the next opponents: "We know Borussia and their players well. And we know how Dieter Hecking likes his teams to play. From that point of view, the change of coaches did not necessarily make the winter break harder - as Gladbach have already played one game under Hecking. It's clear that Borussia are a strong team with lots of individual quality but are clearly lacking some confidence. However, it's just a matter of time before Gladbach are back on form."

...on targets: "Our primary target is to beat Gladbach on Saturday. That match is the start of the second half of the season. And we want to show again what Bayer 04 stands for and produce the football that our fans expect from us and that everybody wants to see."

© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

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