PREVIEW: RENNES - AS NANCY LORRAINE
With six games to play in Ligue 1 this season, Rennes face AS Nancy Lorraine at the Stade de la Route-de-Lorient this Saturday as Les Rouges et Noirs try to improve on last year's seventh-place finish.
Defensive duo Carlos Bocanegra and Peter Hansson returned to training on Thursday, the American left-back shaking off a stomach injury that kept him out of last week's 1-1 tie against Lorient and Swedish stalwart Hansson recovering from a knock in practice to add some defensive bite to Coach Frederic Antonetti's team.
Bocanegra also faces added competition from replacement Romain Danze, the midfielder and sometimes left-back who scored Rennes' only goal at Lorient.
After a four-game winning streak in March, Rennes have struggled in early April, falling to a 2-1 defeat to Lyon before tying Lorient last Saturday. Nancy, eight points behind Rennes in thirteenth-place, are hoping to recover from last weekend's 1-0 loss to Auxerre. That defeat was a setback considering the Alsatian team had recorded impressive wins against Bordeaux as well as a 5-1 rollicking of Lens in the prior weeks.
Rennes bested Nancy earlier this season in December by a scoreline of 2-1, with Sylvain Marveaux scoring the winning goal after an own goal by Bakary Traore.
While Marveaux is expected to start alongside Jimmy Briand, Rennes' leading goal-scorer Asamoah Gyan is doubtful after receiving treatment for a hamstring injury this week. Fabien Lemoine is also a concern with a leg injury which could lead to Jerome Leroy getting the nod in midfield.
For the visitors, Issiar Dia is one player to watch, the Senegalese striker having netted a hat-trick against Lens last month before finishing off reigning champions Bordeaux two weeks ago with an individual goal after a run that began in his own half. Attacking midfielder Youssouf Hadji, a former Rennes player, will miss the game against his former employers through injury.
Rennes are five points behind 6th place Lille and will need a win against Nancy if they hope to put pressure on the top six.