PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN CUP ACTION
The first round of the German Cup kicks off this weekend, giving David Yelldell his first start in Leverkusen's goal and Matt Taylor a return to his former team Ahlen in his new Paderborn uniform.
Dynamo Dresden - Bayer Leverkusen
David Yelldell has officially been given the starting nod in Leverkusen's goal by head coach Robin Dutt, and will hope for a good start as the team heads east to take on newly-promoted 2. Bundesliga team Dynamo Dresden.
An injury during pre-season put Leverkusen number-one keeper Rene Adler on the sidelines for several months, and Dutt announced during the week that Yelldell had won out in a competition with youngster Fabian Giefer for the team's starting role.
He will make his first official appearance for the "Werkself" on Saturday in the very same competition which provided some of the highlights of his career last season.
As the starting keeper for 2. Bundesliga team MSV Duisburg, Yelldell helped the team make a miraculous run to reach the final in Berlin, where they eventually lost out to Schalke in a lopsided game.
While Leverkusen will be heavy favorites to beat 2. Bundesliga entrants Dynamo Dresden, the pressure is still on Yelldell to put in a top performance, or he could risk losing his job to Giefer as Adler regains his health.
Dresden could be missing midfielder David Solga as he has been suffering from dizzy spells.
Aside from Adler, Leverkusen are only without defender Bastian Oczipka who is in recovery from an ankle injury.
Arminia Bielefeld - FC Nürnberg
Timothy Chandler has nailed down the starting right back spot for FC Nürnberg, and will be in the starting eleven on Saturday for their first-round visit to recently relegated 3. Liga team Arminia Bielefeld.
Chandler should have fond memories of the German Cup competition, as his substitute appearance in Nürnberg's round of 16 win over Freiburg in the last edition was the first in a string of appearances that ultimately led to him not only becoming a starter for his team, but also getting noticed on the international level.
His first full season as a first-team starter will begin with the team's visit to Arminia Bielefeld, who were recently dumped down to the 3. Liga after a completely horrendous run in the 2. Bundesliga last season.
This game should present few problems for a Nürnberg squad that lost several of its most important starters during the summer, and could serve as a good warmup and litmus test for a season which many pundits are predicting to be a difficult one.
Nürnberg went all the way to the quarterfinals of the German Cup last time around, where they were eventually beaten by final winners Schalke. They have won the competition four times in their history, most recently in 2007, and will be eager to get this year off on the right foot.
Nürnberg will be without the long-term injured midfielder Mike Frantz and defender Per Nilsson after the Swede went down in training with an injured Achilles.
Bielefeld are reporting no absences to from their squad.
Rot Weiss Ahlen - SC Paderborn 07
Matt Taylor will return to the stadium where he arguably has had his most success in Germany, however this time around he will be in the SC Paderborn uniform as his team visits Rot Weiss Ahlen on Saturday.
Now a member of 2. Bundesliga team Paderborn, Taylor will surely receive a hero's welcome from the home fans when he takes the field in Ahlen, as he was largely responsible for helping them to avoid a bottom three finish in the 3. Liga which would have meant an automatic relegation.
While Ahlen did eventually succumb to their financial difficulties and were forcefully dropped two divisions when it was all said and done, this will have done little to dampen the on-field effect of his 17 goals for the club.
Paderborn are looking to break a string of three straight cup appearances where they have been knocked out at the first round, most recently having lost out to FSV Frankfurt at the start of the competition one year before.
Taylor has already gotten off to a running start for his new club; while not starting either of their first two games, he has seen substantial time in both as a substitute, and opened his scoring account last weekend with the tying goal against Düsseldorf.
Paderborn have several players out including defender Florian Mohr, and forwards Sven Krause and Sören Brandy. Additionally, whether or not Jens Wemmer will compete is in question after the defender injured his ankle in training.
Ahlen are reporting no absences from their team.
FC Oberneuland - FC Ingolstadt 04
Edson Buddle will hope to have retained his starting place in Ingolstadt's attack as they take on fifth-division team FC Oberneuland in Bremen on Sunday.
Ingolstadt have had a rough start to the young 2. Bundesliga season so far, picking just one point through two games and giving all indications that they could be in for a rough ride.
Buddle was a starter in their last game, a dour scoreless draw at home against Aue, and could be back in the lineup again on Sunday against Oberneuland, a fifth-tier team from Bremen who are making their fourth straight appearance in the competition via a in in the previous season's regional cup.
They were relegated from the Regionalliga after a 17th-place finish last season, and should in theory present few problems for Ingolstadt, despite their poor early showings.
Ingolstadt has a trio of absences; attacking midfielder Caiuby, along with defender Andreas Görlitz and Andreas Buchner.
The hosts are not reporting any absences to their team.
SpVgg Unterhaching - SC Freiburg
Daniel Williams will likely be starting at left back for SC Freiburg on Sunday when they visit 3. Liga team SpVgg Unterhaching for a southern duel.
With the pre-season injury to normal left-sided defender Felix Bastians, Williams has been called upon to deputized in his place for the next few weeks.
These two teams met at the same stage two years before, with Freiburg coming out 2-0 winners and eventually reaching the final 16. Freiburg's turn last season ended early, with a second-round loss to semifinalists Cottbus already ending their run by October.
In addition to the ailing Bastians, Freiburg are without defenders Heiko Butscher thanks to an Achilles injury and Pavel Krmas who is out with a muscle pull.
Unterhaching have no absences to report.
Anker Wismar - Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo is in a race to prove his fitness, and could be in uniform to captain Hannover 96 on Sunday as they visit fifth-tier team Anker Wismar in an attempt to avoid a third straight early exit from the cup.
The Hannover skipper has missed most of the team's pre-season since injuring his ankle in the final of the 2011 Gold Cup while on international duty, although he has returned to training in recent days and is pushing for an earlier than expected return to the starting lineup.
The team could use his veteran leadership as they try to buck recent history and try to avoid a third straight year of being unceremoniously dumped in the first round.
It will perhaps be the biggest embarrassment of them all should they lose to Anker Wismar, as the fifth-division team is making their first appearance in the German Cup and should have virtually no chance of advancing.
Aside from the question mark behind Cherundolo, the only other injury issue for Hannover is star forward Didier Ya Konan, who is still in the final stages of recovering form a pulled muscle. Wismar are not reporting any absences.
Ricardo Clark will like return to the substitute's bench for Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday thanks to the arrival of on-loan central defender Andersen, who is favored to get the start when they head east to visit fourth-tier team Hallescher FC.
Michael Bradley is currently trying to engineer a move away from Borussia Mönchengladbach, and will likely not be included in their squad on Friday for their trip to 3. Liga team Jahn Regensburg.
Bobby Wood has not yet been included on 1860's bench for either of their two league games, and will likely suffer the same fate on Friday when they head north to face recently-relegated 3. Liga team VfL Osnabrück.
Amaechi Igwe missed Babelsberg's opening game while waiting for his work permit, and his participation on Saturday when they host last season's losing finalists MSV Duisburg is still a serious question mark.
Luis Robles will likely be watching from the bench on Sunday when Karlsruher SC host Alemannia Aachen in one of the first round's few contests between two 2. Bundesliga teams.
Neither Alfredo Morales nor John Anthony Brooks will likely participate on Sunday when newly-promoted Hertha Berlin visit ZFC Meuselwitz.
FC Schalke wantaway midfielder Jermaine Jones is practicing with the team, however is highly unlikely to take the field on Sunday as the Königsblauen visit minnows FC Teningen.