Mike Büskens: “We’ve got ourselves into a good position”

The Schalke camp is highly motivated and focussed ahead of Friday’s clash with Sandhausen (18:30 CEST). The Werder defeat, which came after five straight league wins, is out of the players’ minds and they will do all they can to secure the three points at the BWT-Stadion. Thousands of Schalke fans are expected to travel to Sandhausen to support their team.

Mike Büskens

Despite the heavy defeat to Werder in last weekend’s top of the table clash, the supporters still got behind their team and gave the players a good send off after the final whistle. Mike Büskens shares this positivity and believes his side are still in decent shape as the season reaches its climax: “We’ve got ourselves into a good position. We are still well in the race with three games to go and we still have the chance to achieve our goal,” he said.

The interim coach, however, does not want to look too far into the future. His side are fully focussed on the here and now and the upcoming clash with Sandhausen. Alois Schwartz’s side have been very strong in the second half of the season and are third in the form table since the winter break, behind only Schalke and Werder. They have also conceded the fewest goals of any side in that time period. “SVS have proven they can mix it with the top teams in the division several times this season,” warned Büskens.

“We’ve got ourselves into a good position. We are still well in the race with three games to go and we still have the chance to achieve our goal.”

Mike Büskens

Sandhausen celebrated a 4-2 victory over Nürnberg last weekend, with all four of their goals coming from corner kicks. “They are defensively compact, place a lot of emphasis on set pieces, play a lot of long balls and look to capitlaise on the second balls. They can also counter-attack quickly with three of four passes,” said the 54-year-old. He continued: “That’s why we have to be focussed and remain patient. If you aren’t switched on then you will be punished against a team like Sandhausen,” said the coach.

Question marks around fitness of three players

Dominick Drexler is suspended after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Werder and will miss out at the weekend. Possible replacements include Darko Churlinov and Blendi Idrizi, but Büskens keeps his cards close to his chest with regards to his team selection.

The coach will also have to wait for the final training session to see who can feature on Friday evening. There are still question marks around the fitness of Malick Thiaw, who had to be substituted last time out after injuring his right foot. The Under-21 international was able to take part in some of parts of the team training this week. “We will need to wait and see if he can feature. After the Werder game, we were worried that Malick wouldn’t be able to play at all, but that doesn’t seem to be the case now,” said Büskens.

It is still unclear whether Thomas Ouwejan, who has had calf problems in recent weeks or Marvin Pieringer, who has returned to training with a protective mask after fracturing his cheekbone, can feature on Friday night. “We need to see how they train and then make a decision about the match. Things are looking positive, though, because they’ve both made good progress,” explained the gaffer. Dong-Gyeong Lee will definitely miss out due to a metatarsal fracture.

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