"Jan Vertonghen is pushing everyone forward, day in day out"

Brian Riemer

A nearly sold-out Lotto Park will see RSC Anderlecht take on KVC Westerlo on Sunday. An important duel for the race to the play-offs. Brian Riemer expects an open game against a good side that has performed well this season.

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In terms of availability, both Lior Refaelov and Islam Slimani have to pass their last tests in training on Saturday. “They’re doing well, both of them completed the training session today. Lior Refaelov suffered from a knock against the knee in the game against Eupen, but the scans showed no extra damage. I expect him to do a full session tomorrow as well, and if he manages to do that, I expect him to be fully ready for Sunday. As for Islam Slimani, we decided to not include him for precautionary reasons for last Sunday’s game against Eupen. He’s been having a really good week. There’s a few small things that need to be ticked tomorrow, but the expectation right now is that he’ll be available for Sunday as well. It’s a bit touch-and-go for both players.”

As for Jan Vertonghen, who played every single minute under Brian Riemer, the coach praised his professionalism. “Jan is simply a top professional. I believe that the things you do between, let’s say, 18 and 27 years old, you might not pay the price immediately and you may think you’re invincible, but you will pay the price of how you have lived once you are older than 30. With Jan, he’s benefiting from having done everything right throughout his amazing career. To have a guy like that available week after week, is incredible. He’s driving the training sessions forward, he’s pushing the youngsters and he’s a great example for them. I can’t praise him enough. I don’t know if you’ve seen the MIC’d UP-video with him? [Jan Vertonghen wore a mic in the game against Antwerp] You can see he’s so into it. He’s obviously not just here to spend the last years of his career and tick a few boxes, he’s really here to make this project succeed. He’s doing everything he can to make Moussa, Killian, Zeno and Bart and everyone around him better players.”

Talking about the game against Westerlo, the coach expressed his respect for the performances of Sunday’s adversary. “Big credit to them. I expect them to come here and play good football, which is something I’m looking forward to. With a full Lotto Park on Sunday, it’s good to see two teams that will try to dominate on the ball. For me, that’s what football is all about. It’s a team with good offensive full-backs that like to go forward. We’re feeling confident, but we have to respect them as well.”

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