Gelsenkirchen – Having finished outside the UEFA Champions League qualification spots last season, FC Schalke 04 are out to right the wrongs of the previous campaign and one man intent on helping them achieve their ambitions is Sead Kolasinac.

The Bosnian international left-back, regarded as one of the hottest prospects in world football in his position, missed the majority of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, but with pre-season preparations underway Kolasinac is looking to impress under a new head coach.

Putting his nose to the grindstone

The 22-year-old has been buckling down at the Royal Blues’ summer training camp in Austria and has already produced some noteworthy performances, including in the 1-1 draw with Udinese in which he provided the assist for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s opening goal. Those impressive displays can be credited to Kolasinac’s hard graft on the training ground when other players were still on vacation as he sought to attain full fitness.

“At first I just relaxed and tried to clear my mind. But once I had done that I was ready to go full throttle as I had to make up for lost ground after my long injury break last season,” said Kolasinac in an interview with schalke04.de. “After all, I was out of action for nearly eight months after tearing my cruciate ligament. I knew that I had to do something in order to be fully fit when pre-season begins. I did that and I now I feel great. My hard work during vacation paid off.”

‘I want to win all my challenges’

With Christian Fuchs leaving to join Premier League outfit Leicester City FC, the left-back role in Schalke’s starting line-up seems to be reserved for Kolasinac in the 53rd Bundesliga campaign, not that he’s taking anything for granted. “If you know me, then you will be aware of the fact that I always give 100 per cent,” continued the five-time Bosnian international.

Like captain Benedikt Höwedes before him, Kolasniac also had words of praise for the new man in charge, Andre Breitenreiter. “Our new head coach is very communicative, both on and off the pitch. I like that a lot,” said the Karlsruhe native. “He is fully committed to his goals, which is great for the team.”

Set to bring a more attacking approach to Schalke’s game-day set-up, Kolasinac could be the beneficiary of a more attack-minded role on the left side of defence, but hasn’t lost sight of his true strengths. “Having an aggressive and robust approach in challenges is one of my strengths,” said the left-back. “Why should I back down? I want to win all my challenges, whether during training or in games.”