USA U20 youth international Nick Taitague has joined compatriot Weston McKennie in Schalke’s first-team squad for their winter training camp in southern Spain as they gear up for the second half of the season.
David Wagner’s side jetted off for Fuente Alamo, near Murcia, on Friday after the players underwent the customary lactate and diagnostic tests at their training headquarters in Gelsenkirchen. They will return to Germany on Thursday 9 January.
Taitague, who hails from Midlothian, Virginia, has been at Schalke since turning 18 in February 2017. Initially part of the club’s U19 side, he scored four goals in 30 outings in the U19 Bundesliga West before being promoted to the U23s at the start of the 2018/19 campaign.
This season the attacking midfielder, who turns 21 in February and shared an apartment with McKennie when the latter arrived in Gelsenkirchen, has five appearances in the Regionalliga West, Germany’s fourth tier, with Schalke in 11th place at the halfway stage.
According to an official club statement, Taitague and fellow youngsters Malick Thiaw, Can Bozdogan, Sören Ahlers and Timo Becker, will “be given the chance to showcase their abilities with the first team over a longer period of time, and to gain experience.”
McKennie, meanwhile has made the trip to the Iberian peninsula as he continues his recovery from a shoulder injury sustained against Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 15. The 21-year-old has made 13 Bundesliga appearances so far this term, starting 10, to help Wagner’s side sit fifth in the league standings.
Schalke will play a friendly against Belgian top-flight outfit VV St. Truiden during their time in Spain, ahead of their Rückrunde curtain-raiser at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday 17 January.