Verbeek: There is acceptance at AZ
AZ Alkmaar coach Gertjan Verbeek has denied there is a problem with forward Jozy Altidore despite reports the American has fallen out of favour.
AZ are currently top of the Eredivisie, four points above PSV Eindhoven and FC Twente, and Altidore has been one of the success stories of the season after scoring seven goals in all competitions.
However, the striker only started on the bench for the UEFA Europa League match against Austria Vienna a week ago, but returned in the 1-0 win over Roda JC only to see his 80th-minute goal ruled out when he was adjudged offside.
AZ travel to Heracles Almelo this weekend aiming to extend their lead at the top of the table, and Verbeek insists resting players is the key to his team's success. "It really is not that we have put Jozy in a forgotten corner," Verbeek said.
"Piet Keur (strike coach) has started working with him as has my assistant Martin Hair and our team manager Charles Bouwens. In this way we try to get Jozy to function the best he can.
"When you have players in your squad that are competitive, it seems it is still uncommon in the Netherlands to rest players. That happens with Ragnar Klavan, who plays fantastic for weeks and yet I sometimes say to him 'you won't play the next game'.
"In my view it is one of the reasons why we are top. There is acceptance, because decisions are explained and players pay attention."
Heerenveen eye turnaround
On Saturday, Heerenveen host ADO Den Haag, who are two places below them in the league in tenth, and striker Bas Dost is hoping to continue his goalscoring form after he contributed two goals to the 6-1 hammering of third division side Harkemase Boys in the KNVB Beker in midweek.
The 22-year-old striker almost switched to Ajax in January, but the deal fell through because of a lack of time to complete the necessary paperwork. And after a difficult start, he believes the team are now finding their form.
"After a poor start, we're playing better as a team," Bost said. "And that means the atmosphere in the team, of course, is enormously improved. The next series of games we can start making steps. The team is eager to win."
Vitesse on the road
Vitesse Arnhem midfielder Marco van Ginkel says the club believe they can achieve European football this season after a strong start.
Vitesse are currently fifth in the league and are looking to get back to winning ways after last weekend's 1-1 draw against PSV when they travel to De Graafschap, who are hovering above the relegation zone in 15th place.
"Merab Jordania (club owner) wants Vitesse to be champions in a few years," Van Ginkel said. "This season the goal is to ensure participation in European football after years of absence."
In this weekend's other games, NAC Breda host second-bottom club VVV-Venlo, who are in search of their first away win of the season, while reigning champions Ajax travel to Roda JC in search of a victory after two consecutive draws.
Bottom club Excelsior go in search of their first league win at home to RKC Waalwijk. Twente play PSV as the second and third placed clubs fight it out to close the gap on AZ, FC Groningen host Feyenoord and FC Utrecht travel to NEC Nijmegen.