Grp G: Metalist vs AZ Alkmaar Preview

Roy Beerens has credited coach Gertjan Verbeek for his new lease of life as AZ Alkmaar prepare for Thursday's Europa League game at Metalist Kharkiv.

Football News: AZ Alkmaar

Beerens has impressed for his new club after his summer move from Heerenveen and believes Verbeek has played a key role in his revival.

The 23-year-old told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant: "I'm revived at AZ. I feel liberated.

"His personal approach appeals to me. He says what I can and cannot do, or that I should try this or that.

"We talk specifically about my position and express our opinions to each other. That makes me better.

"He gets me, what's on the inside.

"I can play freely, on the wing or inside, so that I can create for my team-mates. I'm not in a fixed role and that's just fine."

AZ have picked up 18 points from their seven games so far to sit two points clear at the summit of the Dutch top flight.

Verbeek's side also enjoyed an impressive start to their Europa League Group G campaign, beating Swedish side Malmo 4-1.

But Beerens is not getting carried away just yet, either with domestic or European matters.

"How long will we stay ahead? I do not know," he said. "The fact is that we can play football and that we always try to put on a good show.

"We are all very fit. We have a busy programme with lots of midweek matches in the Europa League, where we can do well too.

"But it is not realistic to say that we have already won the title. Let's first get through the winter. Crazy things can happen in football."

Verbeek has included 18-year-old Fernando Lewis in his 20-man travelling squad, with Australia forward Brett Holman ill. Ragnar Klavan looks set to feature in place of Nick Viergever in defence.

AZ have not won in 12 away games in Europe but will aim to end that run when they face a Metalist side who have never beaten Dutch opposition.

Metalist also won their opening pool game - 2-1 at Austria Vienna on September 15 - but have not scored in their last two home games in European competition.

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