Jens Keller hopeful of beating Chelsea
Schalke coach Jens Keller remains hopeful of victory against Chelsea on Tuesday night despite midfielder Marco Hoeger becoming their latest injury victim.
Schalke are currently fifth in the Bundesliga and top Group E in the Champions League, having won both their European ties to date without conceding, while Chelsea are three points behind after having suffered a shock home defeat to FC Basel.
Keller says the Royal Blues are aiming to maintain their 100 percent record in Europe when Jose Mourinho’s men visit the Veltins Arena, although he knows a point may be considered a positive result.
“Chelsea are a top side with enormous quality,” he told Monday’s prematch news conference. “We have a lot of confidence from our recent results as well as our good showings in the Champions League over the past years. With the fans behind us, obviously we want to give it our best.
“I have always said I want to win every game, but you have to see how the game goes -- maybe a draw would be okay and we could live with that situation.”
On Monday, Schalke confirmed another injury blow, with holding midfielder Hoeger ruled out for the rest of the season.
The 24-year-old suffered a partial tear of a cruciate ligament during the 3-2 victory over Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday and had to undergo surgery just hours after Schalke attacker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar underwent surgery for a knee injury at the same clinic in Augsburg.
“We are terribly sorry about the bad injury to Marco Hoeger, but Jermaine Jones, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Timo Hildebrand will be back [to face Chelsea]," Keller said. "Boateng has trained a lot and will do so today. If he comes up to me and tells me he is fit, I will play him, and we hope that’s what will happen.”
Boateng, who had been struggling with knee problems over the past couple of weeks, only returned to Gelsenkirchen last Friday, having been to Munich for fitness training during the international break.
Jones returned early from his recent trip to the US international team as he is also struggling with ongoing knee problems, and both were absent from the victory over Braunschweig.
“Lots of our current injuries came from accidents and cannot be put down to training problems,” Keller said. “We just have to accept the situation and make the best out of it.”
The highly rated midfielder Julian Draxler will also be available. The 20-year-old has enjoyed a good start to his Champions League season and struck the only goal of the night in the Royal Blues’ 1-0 win at Basel on Oct 1.
Draxler, contracted to Schalke until 2018, has been the subject of much transfer speculation over the past few months, with a release clause in his contract allowing him to make a 45 million euro switch at the end of every season.
“I think there are a lot of top teams in England and the Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world and therefore the league is interesting,” the Germany international said. “But I am now fully focused on Schalke.”
On Chelsea star Andre Schuerrle, who scored three goals in the 5-3 World Cup qualification success over Sweden, Draxler said: “He is a few years older than me. I think the switch to England did him good.”
He joked: “Maybe I’ll score a hat trick tomorrow.”