Gelsenkirchen - German internationals Julian Draxler and Benedikt Höwedes have been ruled out of first-team action until after the winter break after picking up injuries in FC Schalke 04's 2-0 UEFA Champions League win over FC Basel 1893.
"We've had to pay a big price for qualifying for the last 16," explained Royal-Blues' coach Jens Keller, who doesn't expect to have defender Höwedes or midfielder Draxler back until preparation for the second half of the season begins in January.
Höwedes suffered a torn muscle in his right thigh after a 29th-minute clash with Basel striker Marco Streller, while Draxler tore a tendon in his left hamstring during the second-half of the victory, in which he scored the opening goal.
Japanese international Atsuto Uchida also suffered a gash to his lower right leg in the win which sealed qualification, but Keller expects to have him fit for Sunday's Matchday 16 clash with SC Freiburg. Club captain Höwedes tweeted his disappointment (in German) on Thursday evening, saying "the first half of the season is unfortunately over for me".
Die Hinrunde ist für mich leider vorbei!😒
— Benedikt Höwedes (@BeneHoewedes) December 12, 2013