Doha - FC Schalke 04's winter signing is set to be sidelined for longer than initially thought after suffering a partial tear of a ligament in his right ankle during a training session in Qatar

Kirchhoff, who joined the Gelsenkirchen outfit on loan from FC Bayern München at the start of the month, underwent a MRI on Tuesday with Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt which revealed that the centre-back had torn an anterior ligament in his right ankle follow an innocuous challenge during a training session in Qatar.

The defender travelled back to Germany on Tuesday, but was expected to be fit in time for the Royal Blues' Rückrunde opener against Hamburger SV. However, though sporting director Horst Heldt claimed he wasn't "too worried" on Monday, the latest diagnosis will require the 23-year-old to undergo an operation on Wednesday, which could keep him sidelined for several weeks. "It is terrible luck on both parts," said Keller, who will hoping to be able to call upon the services of his defensive reinforcement as soon as possible.