PSV Eindhoven v FC Groningen: Preview

PSV Eindhoven technical director Marcel Brands says head coach Phillip Cocu's recovery from surgery to remove a tumour on his back is ``on schedule'' and insists the former Holland international will be given all the time he needs to return to full fitness.
Cocu on Thursday underwent successful surgery to remove what doctors termed a ``benign'' tumour, which was discovered earlier this month after the 43-year-old complained of back pain.
At a press conference to preview PSV's Eredivisie game with FC Groningen at the Philips Stadion on Saturday night, Brands provided an update on Cocu's condition.
``The operation was successful, the tumour is completely removed,'' he said.
``He has a great night behind him and his recovery is on schedule. His rehabilitation is now central.''
Assistant boss Ernest Faber - who said news of Cocu's condition had hit the team ``like a bomb'' - will take control of the team for the foreseeable future, starting against Groningen, and Brands says Cocu's job will be waiting for him whenever he feels able to return.
``Cocu will continue in the hospital for the coming days at least,'' he said.
``It is difficult to say anything about the recovery period. Knowing Phillip he will want to recover as quickly as possible and maintain close contact with the coaching staff.
``On behalf of all the people of PSV, I above all want to wish him a good recovery, regardless of the time. That's the main thing.
``Phillip has a long-term contract - we will undoubtedly have wonderful years together.''
Brands revealed Cocu first came to him with news of the tumour at the start of the month but delayed telling his players until closer to the operation date.
``At first it seemed to be a hernia,'' Brands said. ``In early March, however, it came to light that there was a tumour in the lower back, which had to be removed ASAP.
``Phillip personally informed me and asked if I wanted to keep it quiet.
``After the match against Vitesse Arnhem (on March 15) Phillip informed the technical staff.
``We were quick to agree about the way we had to deal with this situation.
``At the request of Phillip, last Tuesday we informed the players. We asked them to keep the news quiet until after the surgery and that was done.
``Of course it was an emotional moment for the players, because no one had noticed Phillip [was ill].
``His professional work during a period of uncertainty, therefore, deserves a big compliment.''
PSV captain Stijn Schaars revealed that the players feared something was amiss when they were called to the meeting on Tuesday.
``After lunch all players were called together. That never happens normally, so we already had a suspicion that something was going on,'' he said.
``The news about the health of the coach was a big blow. However, there was immediate talk of a sense of belonging. The squad is united behind the coach.''
Cocu, capped 101 times for Holland, replaced Dick Advocaat as PSV boss last year and has led the club to second place in the Eredivisie table this season, six points shy of leaders Ajax heading into the final weeks of the season.