PSV Eindhoven coach Guus Hiddink is backing his young players to come of age away to AS Monaco FC.
By Matthew Spiro in Monaco
PSV Eindhoven coach Guus Hiddink is backing his young players to come of age against AS Monaco FC in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, as the Dutch champions travel to the France without four internationals.
Netherlands trio Mark van Bommel, André Ooijer and Kevin Hofland are all set to miss out - the first two through injury and third due to suspension - while Danish winger Dennis Rommedahl is also injured. But Hiddink was keen to play down the significance of their absence ahead of a game that PSV, currently third in Group C, can barely afford to lose. "We are missing four very good players, but we have four very capable replacements," he said.
Role for Robben
Hiddink must choose between Theo Lucius and Remco van der Schaaf to take Van Bommel's position in central midfield, while teenage winger Arjen Robben should replace Rommedahl. "Robben is a player with genuine talent and is progressing very quickly," Hiddink pointed out. "He had some problems in the home match against Monaco [which PSV lost 2-1], but now he has the opportunity to make up for that. He is young and will only learn from these experiences."
Meanwhile, in defence Hiddink is calling on Wilfred Bouma to take on added responsibility with Hofland and Ooijer out. "Bouma is 24 now, he is a full international and he is at the stage when he should be becoming more influential on the pitch," Hiddink explained. "He has more of a presence about him - as we saw last week against Scotland - and he must be a leader for us tomorrow." Hiddink also confirmed that John de Jong could play in an advanced role behind Mateja Kezman, should he recover from flu.
In contrast to PSV, Monaco, the group leaders, have no new injury or suspension worries. Indeed manager Didier Deschamps' biggest headache is who to select in attack alongside Spanish international Fernando Morientes. "Dado Pršo is in great form, but then don't forget that Ludovic [Giuly] did a good job in attack against [RC] Deportivo [La Coruña]," he said. "I also have [Shedi] Adebayor and [Souleymane] Camara to consider. I am lucky that I am blessed with so many quality attackers."
Pršo 'in form'
The Monaco boss did, however, hint that Pršo, who scored four goals in the astonishing 8-3 win over Deportivo three weeks ago, could well partner Morientes, with captain Giuly moving back to the right wing. "It is great to see Dado in such good form - particularly after the difficult few months he had earlier this season," Deschamps enthused. "He's certainly a different type of striker to Morientes so there is no question they could play together."
Monaco lead Deportivo by two points and PSV by three, and need a solitary point to be certain of qualification. However, Deschamps said: "We will try to win the match. There is no point looking at what we do or don't need to get through." The coach also stressed his side would not be complacent, despite winning their last European match by such a large margin. "That match was an anomaly," he said. "If we played Deportivo again tomorrow, I doubt very much we would score eight goals.
"Of course it has given our team confidence but PSV is another big test. They are suited to playing away from home because they are well organised and have some very fast players. We will have to be at our best again to get a result."