Schalke captain Benedikt Hoewedes faces a race against time to be fit for the World Cup after damaging thigh muscles during the 3-1 Champions League defeat at Real Madrid.
The Germany international, 26, was substituted in the second half of the game on Tuesday evening, and it was confirmed on Thursday that the defender would miss the next six weeks with the injury.
“Benedikt Hoewedes is really down,” Schalke coach Jens Keller told reporters. “He wants to make the World Cup and then picks up three muscular injuries within a couple of weeks. That’s very bitter.
Amongst them the Peru international Jefferson Farfan, the Japan full-back Atsuto Uchida, Germany international Dennis Aogo and the on-loan Bayern midfielder Jan Kirchhoff, who has not played a minute of first team football for the club he joined in the winter.
Despite heavy defeats against Real Madrid in Champions League and at Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, Schalke have been fairly consistent domestically.
In recent weeks, the Royal Blues have overtaken struggling Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga standings, and are only one point behind second-placed Borussia Dortmund.
The rivals will meet in the prestigious Revierderby at the Westfalenstadion next Tuesday. Before that, though, Schalke host the bottom of the league side Eintracht Braunschweig.