“I grew up not very far from here,” says the 27-times capped German international defender, looking ahead to the Hammers tricky trip to the Europa-Park Stadion.
“SC Freiburg are a club that has always grown itself from within thanks to its academy structure and, by getting many of its players from the local region, it has a certain discipline and an identity.
“A few years ago, Freiburg seemed happy just to stay in the top division but now they’re always pushing for the top places in Bundesliga and they’ve started to do well in Europe, too.
“And although they may have a big game against Bayern Munich coming up at the weekend, they’ve always been a team that’s focused on being organised on the actual match before them and I don’t think that they’re going to change their game-plan for the match against us.”
Certainly, tonight’s clash against the side sitting in eighth spot in Germany’s top-flight looks set to be the toughest of the Hammers six Group A fixtures, but Kehrer is hoping David Moyes’ men can continue their magnificent 16-match unbeaten run in Europe.
“We have great memories from last year and it’s always a very special privilege to play in Europe,” adds June’s UEFA Europa League Conference winner, who moved to the East End from Paris Saint-Germain at the start of last season.
“This is one of the most balanced squads that I’ve ever been involved in and everyone is aware of the competition.
“I will always try to give my best with every minute that I get on the pitch because I want this team to continue to be successful.
“Each player has his own qualities and when they get their opportunity, too, they are also try to bring them into the team to help us all profit.
“We have a very special group here at this football club.
“Over the past two years, we have also shown that this is a club that always looks to take its group games seriously.”
The 27-year-old has made 43 appearances for West Ham since his £10million move from the French capital, but this will be the first without the backing of the vociferous travelling Claret & Blue army, who are banned by UEFA from attending tonight’s game.
“We love our fans and we love having them there supporting us at our games because it gives you a little extra boost so it’s unfortunate that they are not allowed to be at this match,” he says.
“We’re professionals, though, and we will need to adapt and just try to get the job done without them.”
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