Standard hopeful of quick Stam, Thuram-Ulien impact

Belgian Pro League outfit Standard Liege are hopeful new signings Ronnie Stam and Yohann Thuram-Ulien will feature against Xanthi on Thursday.

Standard – who have not won the title in five years – saw their bid for the ultimate honour in Belgian football gather pace on Tuesday with the double signing of Stam and Thuram-Ulien.

Both are expected to be involved at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne on Saturday, as Standard take on Lierse in their first home match of the season.

But Israeli manager Guy Luzon will have his fingers crossed that the pair could feature on Thursday in the first leg of a third round qualifier in the UEFA Europa League.

Standard travel to Greece for the match after overcoming Iceland's KR 6-2 on aggregate in the second round of qualifying.

Stam, 29, is likely to be a key player for Standard this season, with the Dutchman crossing from Wigan Athletic on a free transfer following their relegation from the Premier League in England.

The highly capable right-back has previously played for NAC Breda and FC Twente in the Netherlands.

Thuram-Ulien, 24, has joined Standard from Troyes where he played every minute of every match last season in Ligue 1.

Schooled at Monaco, Thuram-Ulien – who cost a reported €1.5 million - is the cousin of former France defender Lilian Thuram.

He will offer Japan international Eiji Kawashima stern competition for the role as first-choice goalkeeper at the club.

Standard – who have also signed Tal Ben Haim and Alpaslan Ozturk in the close-season – won their first match of the Belgian Pro League season on Sunday, defeating Mechelen 2-0.