David Wagner says he has no reason to believe Bayern Munich-bound goalkeeper Alexander Nübel will give anything but 100 per cent whilst he remains a Schalke player.
The Germany U21 international, 23, has since been replaced as club captain by Omar Mascarell, but Schalke's head coach says the decision was mutual and his former skipper still has an important role to play in the months ahead.
"Alex and I came to an agreement that we had to choose a new captain," Wagner told the Ruhr district outfit's official website. "We talked over all the pros and cons, and came to a decision that we felt was best for the team. That doesn’t mean that Alex isn’t still a very important part of our group. I’m in no doubt Alex will give everything he can until his last game for this club."
Nübel made 15 Bundesliga appearances during the first half of the season, before being hit with a four-match ban following his sending off in Schalke’s 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Royal Blues were held to draws by Wolfsburg and Freiburg in their final two league matches of 2019, but remain firmly in contention in the race for UEFA Champions League football, with only goal difference keeping them outside the top four at the halfway stage.
"We want to build on a successful first half of the season," Wagner said. "Finishing in the top six or higher is now a real possibility, but we know that it’s not over and we have to keep pushing because there are about nine or ten teams fighting for those spots. Before the season we didn’t know if it would be possible, and now we have the chance to do something special. We’ve spoken about it, and everybody in the squad is committed to making that a reality."
Watch: Highlights of Schalke's 1-0 win against Frankfurt on Matchday 15
Schalke are currently warming up for the second half of 2019/20 at a training camp in Fuente Alamo, Spain. Die Knappen are scheduled to play friendlies against Belgium’s St. Truiden and Bundesliga 2 side Hamburg, before hosting second-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach in the first Bundesliga match of the Rückrunde on 17 January.
Wagner says 21-year-old Markus Schubert will remain in goal for the Gladbach clash, as well as the trip to Bayern’s Allianz Arena a week later. Nübel could make his return to the starting line-up following suspension in the game at Hertha Berlin on 31 January.
"Schubi put in some great performances whilst Alex has been away, and we really hope he can keep it up until Alex gets back on the 31 January," the 48-year-old explained. "Whatever happens after that, happens."