Sporting Lisbon vs Gent Preview
Former Germany goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand will start for Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League clash against Gent.
Sporting boss Paulo Sergio made the announcement at his press conference today as he continues to try to solve his goalkeeping dilemma after an indifferent start to the season.
Hildebrand, who signed a one-year deal with the Lisbon club in the summer, played in Sporting's 2-1 win over Estoril in the Taca de Portugal at the weekend, but is yet to figure in the league or in Europe.
However, Sergio today confirmed he will start ahead of Rui Patricio, who has been Sporting's regular between the posts this season, and Tiago, who played in the 2-1 win over Lille last month.
"Tomorrow, Timo will be playing because this is my decision," Sergio said.
"Hildebrand joined us and then did not have any time to play in training games. Tiago did well in Lille. Rui has had one or two miserable moments but is doing a very good job.
"But now Timo has the opportunity to show his value."
Sergio refused to give away any more details of his starting XI, but veteran midfielder Maniche is expected to feature after recovering from a back injury.
Marat Izmailov and Pedro Mendes remain long-term absentees, while Yannick and Leandro Grimi are also sidelined.
For Gent, the question is whether Yassine El Ghanassy plays.
The 20-year-old has been fitted with a mask after suffering a facial fracture against Kortrijk, but will not be risked if an accompanying concussion has not receded.
"I would like to play against a team as renowned as Sporting Lisbon," he said. "I am certainly not afraid. But the medical staff and the coach will decide."
Yaya Soumahoro is fit and is likely to be return.
Coach Francky Dury recognises his side are second favourites for the match, despite Sporting's rough start, but does not want his players to be too cautious.
"The Portuguese league is very close and they will find a way," he said. "But we will not defend with five extra men. That would not be good for our own development."