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AFC Ajax coach Ronald Koeman has a goalkeeping dilemma as the Dutch champions prepare to begin their UEFA Cup campaign against AJ Auxerre.
Ajax moved into this competition after claiming third place in UEFA Champions League Group C, but they will be without Hans Vonk in goal after he suffered a thigh injury in the 2-1 Eredivisie win at NAC Breda on Sunday. For a replacement, Koeman will look to either Bogdan Lobont, just back from a broken finger, or Maarten Stekelenburg, who took Vonk's place at the weekend.
Koeman is also without playmaker Tomás Galásek, who has a groin injury, as well as defender Zdenek Grygera and winger Wesley Sneijder due to hamstring complaints. January signing Angelos Charisteas is ineligible and his place could go to 18-year-old striker Ryan Babel. However, Johnny Heitinga should return after a bout of flu and Steven Pienaar after a back injury. "I expect both to play against Auxerre," Koeman said. "As for the rest I do not have much choice."
For Auxerre, playmaker Yann Lachuer has a knee injury while full-back Younès Kaboul is targeting the second leg as he recovers from an ankle strain. Wing-back Johan Radet is a long-term absentee but striker Bonaventure Kalou and midfield anchorman Philippe Violeau should be available after missing Saturday's 2-0 French Cup win against Vannes OC.
Coach Guy Roux has taken 19-year-old striker Kévin Lejeune to Amsterdam "in order that he gets the European experience", but it will be the in-form trio of Kalou, Kanga Akalé and Benjani Mwaruwari who should start in attack. Roux warned it would not be easy: "
Ajax have played only four games since the winter break, we have played ten. They will have trained hard and they will be fitter than us."
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