Mike Büskens: A valuable experience for the players and the team

On Thursday, Schalke 04 welcomed FC Utrecht to Ernst-Kuzorra-Weg for a friendly to be played behind closed doors. It was a successful afternoon for the Royal Blues, who defeated the Dutch side 1-0. More important than the result, however, was the chance to gain valuable experience in a match against the seventh-placed side in the Eredivisie.

Mike Büskens

Five youth academy players were able to feature in the friendly. Daniel Kyerewaa, Luca Campanile, Arbnor Aliu, Gideon Guzy and Semin Kojic were given the chance to impress against the Dutch side. “These are important experiences not just for the players but also for us,” explained head coach Mike Büskens after the game, who is aware that absences due to Covid-19 and the continuous testing of the players cannot be completely ruled out at the moment. “We can say that we have seen these players under competitive match conditions.”

Ouwejan makes his comeback

It was Dominick Drexler’s goal in the 13th minute that gave Schalke 04 the victory on Thursday. The attacking midfielder got on the end of a Marius Bülter cross at the back post and found the net from close range. The game also offered the coach the chance to play Yaroslav Mikhailov at left-back and he was impressed with the 18-year-old’s performance: “He fit into the position really well,” said Büskens, who also asserted that in friendlies, it is important to see whether players can offer an alternative option in positions in which they have rarely been used.

With a quarter of an hour to go, Thomas Ouwejan made his return from injury. The Dutch full-back had been absent from the last three league games with muscular problems. “I’m delighted that Thomas managed to get 15 minutes. That was great for him and it gave the team a lift,” said the coach.

Unlike in the game against Hannover when we played as a right-back, Marius Lode was deployed as a centre-half against Utrecht. “I prefer playing as a central defender because that is where I have played for the last few years. But it was also fun to play as a full-back in the game against Hannover,” explained Lode. He continued: “It is a strength to be able to play in multiple positions,” said the Norwegian.

When you get the chance, like I did against Hannover, you have to be ready.

Marius Lode

His goal, he says, is to get as many minutes as possible and to help the team achieve promotion. He says it is important to remain professional at all times, even if you don’t get as much playing time. “When you get the chance, like I did against Hannover, you have to be ready.”

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