Juergen Klopp may have to trust in rookie defenders Marian Sarr and Koray Guenter as Borussia Dortmund prepare for the trip Hoffenheim this weekend.
• Buczko: Tired and decimated BVB
Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic and Marcel Schmelzer have all been ruled out of Saturday’s game through injury, while Sokratis Papastathopoulos is suspended. Manuel Friedrich, whom BVB signed as free agent last month to add defensive cover, is a major doubt with a toe problem.
Klopp may therefore have to hand Sarr, 18, his Bundesliga debut and could form a centre-back pairing with Guenter, 19, who would be making only his second league appearance.
Hoffenheim, currently 11th in the table, are the third highest scorers in Germany this season with 34 goals, and Klopp, whose side have lost three of their last four league games, expects it to be difficult.
“We have a tough game in Hoffenheim on Saturday, and we should be prepared to face tough opposition,” he told a news conference.
Dortmund won only three of their 10 Bundesliga meetings with Hoffenheim during Klopp’s reign, and -- beyond their injury problems -- the visitors’ task will be complicated by the fact they had to travel to Marseille for a crunch Champions League clash on Wednesday night.
Dortmund won that match 2-1 thanks to a late Kevin Grosskreutz strike that saw them progress to the knockout stage, but Klopp expects Hoffenheim will attempt to “take advantage of our fatigue following our game in Marseille.”
Borussia could also utilise Grosskreutz as a makeshift centre-back for the match, and the Dortmund-born 25-year-old -- who primarily operates as an attacking full-back or on the wing -- is emerging as a legend in the making for the club.
“Kevin has this indomitable will to win,” Dortmund CEO Aki Watzke told reporters.
On Thursday, the official Bundesliga channel on YouTube published a video entitled “A team of 11 Kevin Grosskreutzes -- What would happen?” showing the player starting the game in goal and ending up scoring a goal.