Dimitrios Grammozis: We need to push each other more
FC Schalke 04 will begin 2022 with a home game against Holstein Kiel on Sunday (16/1, 13:30 CET). Two new signings could feature for the Royal Blues this weekend. A number of players could make their return too after missing recent matches. Just 750 fans are allowed to attend the game at the VELTINS-Arena due to the latest Corona guidelines.
“We’re pleased to be back in action,” said Dimitrios Grammozis, whose side has reportedly worked hard and enjoyed preparing for the second half of the season. Two new faces have joined the club in the new year: centre back Marius Lode and wide player Andreas Vindheim. “Both lads are really excited to play for Schalke,” revealed the head coach. “They’ve been very open and have gone up to their new teammates to get to know them.”
New signings could feature
Grammozis stated that the two Norwegians were fully fit and were therefore candidates to start on Sunday, especially considering a number of players will be unavailable. Marcin Kaminski, the only Schalke player to have completed every minute so far this season, is missing with Covid-19. Mehmet Can Aydin is out injured with a thigh problem. Michael Langer is still working towards his comeback after tearing his ACL. Marc Rzatkowski is completing rehabilitation training, whilst Marvin Pieringer is banned after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season at Hamburg.
We have to put a shift in all game. Nothing will be gifted to us, but the lads know that.
Simon Terodde, on the other hand, is back. The club’s top goalscorer this season with 12 goals has recovered from his calf injury and his Covid-19 infection. “Simon is ready to go,” reported Grammozis. “He’s dealt with the schedule over the last few days well and is itching to make his return. He’ll be an option for Sunday all being well.” Grammozis also has Ko Itakura at his disposal. The Japanese defender, who grabbed a late equaliser in the last league game at Hamburg (1-1), had also tested positive for Corona just before the turn of the year.
Former Kiel man Dominick Drexler was able to train after suffering from muscular problems before the winter break. Danny Latza was also in training again. He returned from a bad knee injury in October, but then suffered a bruise and a muscle injury after his comeback.
Build on good performances
The team from the north of Germany have Grammozis’ respect – not just because they went into the winter break on the back of a 3-0 win over league leaders FC St. Pauli. “Kiel have a good team,” observed the 43-year-old. “Not having a crowd there really hurts. Our fans always give us a boost, so without them we will need to push each other more on the pitch. This situation isn’t a new one for us though. The lads know what an almost empty Arena feels like because we always do our final training session before every home game in the ground.”
Grammozis wants his side to build on the strong performances just before the winter break. “We improved as the first half of the season went on. The way we played most recently in Hamburg and at home to Nürnberg, plus in the second half at St. Pauli, pleased me,” said the boss. He won’t be allowing the players to relax or think things will just carry on going swimmingly though: “We have to put a shift in all game. Nothing will be gifted to us, but the lads know that, which is why I believe we will put in a good performance against Kiel.”