Schalke boss Jens Keller has rubbished claims Kevin-Prince Boateng rules the dressing room and insisted his absence for Saturday's meeting with Bayern Munich is down to an ankle injury.
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Schalke have endured a miserable start to the season, losing to third-tier club Dynamo Dresden in the DFB-Pokal and then at Hannover in Bundesliga, and they now host the champions in their first home game of the season.
Their preparations have not been helped by a claim in Sport Bild that Boateng -- who was praised for making tactical changes during a game in April -- was calling the shots in the dressing room.
The 27-year-old international, who was sent home from the World Cup ahead of Ghana's third group match versus Portugal, started the season with ankle problems but declared himself fit ahead of the recent defeats, and went on to underperform on the pitch.
Reports in German media then claimed that Boateng would be disciplined and not called up for the Bayern match.
"He is injured. It's definitely not that he pisses off and we claim that he's injured," Keller told a news conference on Friday. "If he were fit he would have played. Kevin is unbelievably important for us, and will remain important. We don't slaughter anyone here and also don't allow anyone to slaughter him."
Keller added that there is "no power struggle" at all, and underlined that he "called the shots in the dressing room."
With Boateng out, and left-back Sead Kolasinac sidelined following an ACL tear last week, Keller will make a number of changes to his starting formation for the visit of Bayern.
It is likely that centre-back Benedikt Howedes will feature at left-back, the position he successfully filled in at the 2014 World Cup. Jan Kirchhoff, who returns after a string of injuries, could take Howedes' positon at centre-back.
"Howedes played outstanding there at the World Cup. To me he is still a centre-back, but the circumstances make him an alternative."
Schalke, who have lost all of their seven last matches against Bayern, could also be without target man Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has suffered with a cold over the past few days.
"We'll see about that after the final training session," Keller said of the Netherlands international's chances of making the squad on Saturday.