Cologne - With the second half of the Bundesliga season approaching, one man who is understandably more desperate than many to hear that first whistle blow at the weekend is FC Schalke 04's .

The Cameroonian could not wait to see the back of 2014, and to put behind him the grimmest chapter in his fledgling career.

'Difficult time'

"I’ve not been out for so long before. It was a difficult time for me," Matip said, referring to a foot injury which sidelined him since Matchday 8. "I hope that it’s now over and that I don’t have to be on the sidelines for such a long period of time." Matip also missed the African Cup of Nations due to the injury, but that may not have been such a bad thing for player or club.

"My foot feels great, it’s improving daily," he told schalke04.com. "I’ve not had any problems in training or during the friendlies. I will keep giving it my all and hope that I’ll be helping the team out again soon." That could be as soon as Saturday, when the Royal Blues re-launch their Bundesliga campaign against Hannover 96.

Optimistic with new system

"We want to make a strong start, as it sets the foundations for the coming weeks," said the 23-year-old. "If we don’t pick up three points, we certainly don’t want to lose. It’s always tight at the top end of the table. I think there’s a good chance that we will have achieved our goals by the end of the season."

Viewers of Saturday's clash at the can expect to see a few changes in the Gelsenkirchen-based club. Coach Roberto Di Matteo has made the most of the 41-day absence of competitive football to tinker with a side he inherited in October, and has barely had any time to work with, given their hectic schedule of games.

New style

The former Chelsea FC coach, who guided one club who wears all blue to UEFA Champions League glory three years ago and is plotting a similar path with Schalke, has been working on a new style of play which may come as a shock to many in the Bundesliga, but it is that precise surprise factor which could come up trumps.

"It’s different," Matip said of the new 3-5-2 formation. "There are a few changes compared to a back four. But at the end of the day, it’s still football. I’m learning the system as I go. I’m flexible and can play across the back three, which I hope means I’ll get plenty of game time." And with that, Matip hopes for a bright - and blue - 2015.