All is not lost for Cologne in their pursuit of a UEFA Europa League place, according to Bundesliga Team of the Season candidate Jonas Hector.

And with good reason. Although the eighth-placed Billy Goats are winless in four, they could return to the top six with victory over fellow European candidates Werder Bremen on Friday night.

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Watch: Seven teams, three rounds of fixtures, one goal - the Europa League:

bundesliga.com: Jonas Hector, Cologne have enjoyed a very good season, conceding the fourth-fewest defeats in the league (four). The team are on track to top last season's ninth-placed finish. All in all, are you happy?

Hector: We know we've had a few bad patches, which we can't be happy with, but I think we can be happy with the season so far as a whole. We've got three games to go. Let's see what happens.

bundesliga.com: The Europa League is still an option…

Hector: No one expected this section of the table to be so tight. Hertha in fifth have 46 points, Frankfurt in 11th have 41…

bundesliga.com: … and Cologne have 42, but can replace sixth-placed Werder on Friday, on goal difference.

Hector: Obviously we're proud to be involved at the business end. We'll have to wait and see what happens with two home games and the derby in Leverkusen to go.

Hector put pen to paper on a new five-year deal in summer 2016. © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Liefeld

bundesliga.com: Since returning to the Bundesliga three years ago, the team have improved step by step. Where in particular have you improved this term?

Hector: During the Hinrunde, we were significantly better going forward, compared to the previous two seasons. We've already scored five more goals that we had at the end of last season.

bundesliga.com: With the contract extensions, or the long-term deals of integral players such as [Timo] Horn, [Marco] Höger, [Leonardo] Bittencourt, [Marcel] Risse, [Frederik] Sörensen, [Dominique] Heintz, [Anothony] Modeste and yourself, the future looks bright for Cologne…

Hector: The club have continuously tried to keep hold of the top players in recent years, which has resulted in the tight unit you see today. If you don't have to integrate so many new players before the start of a new season, it makes the whole process a lot easier. And then the few that do come in, as a rule, make a seamless transition. Our contract lengths are something of a pledge, compared to other teams who perhaps have to replace ten players.

Watch: Team of the Season - the left-backs:

bundesliga.com: You're a player who has come up from Bundesliga 2 and hit new heights in this only your third season in the Bundesliga….

Hector: I wouldn't say I've always played consistently well over the course of the entire season. I've had some bad games, but that's life. It's very difficult to maintain the level the Bundesliga demands of you week after week.

bundesliga.com: You've never really had a real dip in form or a crisis in confidence that has lasted for weeks on end, though…

Hector: In every game, I just try to play to the best of my ability, so that I can help the team. Obviously there are games where it doesn't work out. That can also be down to the team not functioning as well as usual as a unit.

bundesliga.com: What kind of game are you expecting against a Bremen side who were 15th during the winter break, but are now the Bundesliga's second-best team since the turn of the year?

Hector:  I'm expecting an open game. In our most recent home games, especially against Hoffenheim last time out, we've once again shown our willingness and commitment. Bremen, on the other hand, go into the game full of confidence because they've been on a fantastic run of late.

Click here for the Cologne vs. Bremen Match Centre

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