Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: The most important thing is for us to be successful

Exactly 1,351 days after his final appearance for FC Schalke 04, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will likely make his return in Royal Blue on Saturday in Bremen (30/1). It will be Huntelaar’s 176th appearance for Schalke. Head coach Christian Gross is planning to give the Dutchman a short cameo from the bench, after he missed out on the last two games with a calf injury.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

“I’m happy to report that Klaas-Jan will travel to Bremen. We are planning to give him a cameo,” said Gross. The head coach called the striker a “clinical finisher,” and an important role model for teammate Matthew Hoppe, who is nearly half his age. 

First and foremost, Gross is expecting to see lots of goals from Huntelaar. “I’m confident that he will score,” said Gross, while also admitting that it “does always require some patience.”

In the squad for the first time after a calf injury

Huntelaar’s excitement at being able to feature for S04 again after three and half years away was clearly visible. He was sidelined for the last two games against 1. FC Köln and Bayern München due to a calf injury he picked up in his final game for Ajax Amsterdam. Now, the striker is fit and ready to play. “I needed some time to recover after the injury, but I’m back now. When I’m fit, then of course I can play the full 90 minutes,” Huntelaar said, who added that fitness has never been an issue for him. But, it was important that his injury had time to heal properly, “Otherwise, you’ll have problems for weeks and weeks,” he said.

We defend as a team, and we score as a team.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

With the veteran striker back in squad, the Royal Blues will be looking to pick up points against Werder Bremen this weekend. “The most important thing is for us to be successful,” said Huntelaar. In order for that to happen, the team will have to be well-positioned, avoid making any big mistakes and score more goals as a team. “We defend as a team, and we score as a team,” he said. 

Heading into the upcoming games with confidence

Despite the recent defeats, the 37-year-old has seen some promising performances from the team. “We played well against Köln, especially in the second half. We shouldn’t have lost that game,” said Huntelaar. “We also had some good chances against Bayern. It’s clear to see that it’s possible to take points off every team.” He added that he is confident that the team will be able to pick up points from their upcoming games. 

Should Huntelaar start the game on the bench, as Gross said he might, then Matthew Hoppe will likely feature up front once again. Huntelaar called the 19-year-old American a good player with lots of potential, listing the five goals he has scored in his last four games as an example. “He makes good runs and his mentality is great,” said Huntelaar, who expects big things from Hoppe in the future, should he continue on the way he has been. 

We decide how the game goes.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Saturday as a whole will hopefully be a successful day for Schalke. Huntelaar mentioned that it will be key for the team to be at ease heading into the game, despite the recent setbacks because “football is a mental game.” He added, “We need to bring that effortlessness into the game. We decide how the game goes. In order to get all three points, we need to be better than we have been lately.”

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