Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie says he is “really missing fighting for the ball and making a slide tackle” as the Royal Blues continue to train in small groups while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Since then the 21-year-old has been following the government’s ‘stay-at-home’ instructions, and while Schalke have now resumed training, they are doing so under strict hygiene conditions – meaning tackling is not allowed, much to McKennie’s frustration.
Watch: See McKennie's goal in the Matchday 25 clash with Hoffenheim
“It’s not easy, but our job is to stay focused, even if we don’t know when we can play football again,” he said in an interview on the official Schalke website. “I’m ready to restart at any time and I hope we finish the season well.
“[What I’m missing is] definitely tackling in a classic training game. Four against four or seven against seven is always hotly contested. I’m really missing fighting for the ball and making a slide tackle.”
Understandably so, given that McKennie usually comes out on top in such duels: he has started 16 Bundesliga matches in 2019/20 and won a huge 60.4 per cent of all aerial tussles. The fact he has also committed 20 fouls and earned four yellow cards show just how much he throws himself into the gritty side of the game.
Aside from being put through his paces at the club’s training centre, the Texas native is also staying in shape with home workouts and walks: “I’m training a lot right now – with my own fitness equipment at home too. I do like to relax now and again though. I like to play Fortnite and FIFA. I also enjoy taking my dogs for a walk.
“They help to clear my head. To be honest, they’re not really walks. When I’m out with my husky, I ride my bike instead, which works better for both of us. My akita is a lot more chilled. She prefers to go at a slower pace, so they are more like walks with her.”