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Football: Loovens meeting up with some old friends as City go Dutch.

Byline: By Terry Phillips South Wales Echo

Dutch defender Glenn Loovens will catch up with a few old friends after Cardiff City's pre-season game against FC Twente at Ninian Park tomorrow (3pm). "I know quite a few of the FC Twente players from back home in Holland," said Loovens. "Alfred Schreuder, Orlando Engelaar and Jeroen Heubach were all at Feyenoord with me, while there were a few of us in the national under-21 squad at the same time."

Loovens, 23, will take on his Dutch pals tomorrow, the only home game in Cardiff City's pre-season programme.

Rotterdam-born Loovens will partner Roger Johnson in the middle of the back four - and they are favourites to be the defensive pairing for the opening Championship match of the season at home to Stoke City.

And Loovens has warned his team-mates tomorrow's match is likely to be their toughest test so far.

"FC Twente are a good side and they keep possession really well," said Loovens.

"They finished fourth in the Dutch League last season and did really well in matches against the top three - Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven and Ajax.

"They are, like Cardiff City, a club going forward. They have a new stadium and we will have to be at our best."

Loovens knows defender Edson Braafheid plus strikers Romano Denneboom and Youssouf Hersi from their days playing and training together for Holland at under-21 level.

"There are plenty of quality players in the FC Twente team," said Loovens.

"Orlando Engelaar is a midfield player who is 6ft 5ins tall. He will be one of their players who will cause us problems."

Amsterdam-born Engelaar, 27, is a Dutch international attacking midfield player who has also played for NAC Breda and RC Genk in Belgium.

Loovens was born in Doeeinhem while his father was playing for Dutch club Graafschap.

He grew up in Rotterdam and joined Feyenoord's youth system at the age of 12.

He made a number of League and cup appearances for Feyenoord, while he also had a loan spell with Graasthad.

But his first-team opportunities looked limited and Loovens turned to Wales - and Cardiff City - two years ago.

"My agent put me in touch with Cardiff City and the manager (Dave Jones) took a leap of faith," said Loovens.

"He had not seen me play, but gave me the chance to sign for Cardiff on loan. He put his faith in me and hopefully I have repaid him."

Loovens accepts he took time to settle into the far more physical style of football in the Championship.

"In Holland the training is more about tactics and techniques," says Loovens.

"Cardiff City do that as well, of course, but there are far more games in the English League - 46 during a League season against 34 in Holland.

"It's physically much stronger in the Championship, but I think the game in Holland is technically better. There is a big difference.

"I believe I have adjusted pretty well. I am stronger now and used to the physical side of football here."

Loovens believes Cardiff City will be an even stronger force in the Championship during the coming season, saying: "I really feel we have a stronger squad now, more strength in depth.

"There is a good mix of young players and experience. And those young players who came in last season will benefit from their experiences.

"Players like Gavin Rae and the other new lads are really adding a lot to the squad. I really feel we can do well again - and this time we have everything needed to maintain a challenge.": GLENN LOOVENS:Born: Doeeinhem, Holland. Date of birth: September 22, 1983. Age: 23 Clubs: Feyenoord (debut 2001-2002) 27+0 sub/0 goals, Excelsior (loan) 24+0sub/0 goals, Graafschap (loan) 11+0sub+0 goals, Cardiff City 64+1sub/3 goals. Bluebirds Championship full debut: v Wolves at Ninian Park, August 2005, 2-2 draw. FACTS: He was the first Dutch player to sign for Cardiff City. Last season, Iwan Redan became the second when he joined City from Willem II. Winston Faerber joined Cardiff City from Dutch club Den Haag in 1999, but Faerber was born in Surinam. One of his closest pals is Arsenal's Robin van Persie. They were together at Feyenoord.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUNE
Date:Aug 3, 2007
Words:709
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