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Stevens given Schalke backing

Schalke general manager Horst Heldt has backed under-fire boss Huub Stevens and rubbished rumors of a winter exit for the Dutch coach.

On Thursday kicker ran the headline: "Final for Stevens?" The paper claimed Schalke were pondering the idea of replacing Stevens with assistant coach Markus Gisdol, 43, if the club lost against Freiburg at the weekend. However, kicker added that giving Stevens an honourable farewell remained the club's first goal.

"I don't know who had this idea," Heldt asked during a press-conference on Thursday. "As agreed we will approach these things calmly.

"A team works like clockwork, every cog intermeshes with the next one. If singular cogs don't move, everything comes to a standstill."

Schalke have not won for five games and have slipped to fifth in the Bundesliga standings. They also have mounting injury problems. On Saturday Stevens will be without key players Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Ibrahim Affelay and Jermaine Jones. Midfielders Jefferson Farfan and Marco Hoger are still doubtful. But Heldt remained hopeful about Schalke's chances of turning their fortunes around.

"In the last few days we've tried to hold lots of conversations with the players to train hard and to gather all our forces to the tasks against Freiburg and then Mainz in the cup," he said. "I'm therefore convinced we can win both matches before the break."

Freiburg, who are currently ninth could overtake Schalke with a win on Saturday.

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