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Memory lane

Juande Ramos will take a trip down memory lane when we face Hercules CF in Spain on Thursday.

Juande Ramos will take a trip down memory lane when we face Hercules CF in Spain on Thursday.

Our Head Coach made his debut as a player in the Primera Division of La Liga for Elche against the Alicante-based side back on January 19, 1975.

It was an early highlight of a playing career that was cut short by injury at the age of 28.

Juande recalled: "It was my first game in the top division of La Liga, I was young and it was a big occasion for me, a big experience.

"I later played for Alicante and they had a very strong rivalry with Hercules, the two teams in the city.

"Hercules was always historically the strongest team and Alicante the second team but last season Alicante was promoted from Segunda Division B and will now play in the same championship as Hercules in the Segunda Division next season. I believe this is very good for the city.

"The rivalry is as strong as anywhere else, especially where you have two teams in the same city."

Juande is well aware of Hercules' history and knows we are in for a test at the Jose Rico Perez Stadium on Thursday night.

"Hercules is a very big team historically in Spain," he said. "They were last in the Premier Division in 1996/97 but at this moment they are in the Second Division.

"They are always playing for promotion. In Spain, that's always difficult but I think it will be possible next season because they have good players.

"For us, we are looking to improve our performance in every match. What is important is that the players and the new players especially know their team-mates and know the system that we will be looking to play next season."

After most of the squad got a run out in training ground friendly wins against local teams Tavernes and Denia, Juande is set to field his strongest side available against Hercules.

"It will be a great friendly for us at this point," said Juande. "We are preparing the team and little by little we need to step up the resistance we'll face in games.

"The players have worked hard and hopefully we'll have everyone available."

Click here for ticket info...