Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 fly out to Qatar on Friday without Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jermaine Jones, Julian Draxler and Leon Goretzka, while Kevin-Prince Boateng will link up with the squad directly from his holidays in the region.
Youngsters also out
Huntelaar will continue his recovery from a knee injury back in Gelsenkirchen while Jones has requested to remain in Germany for the eventuality that transfer offers arrive for him.
Draxler, who picked up a thigh injury on 11 December in Schalke's Champions League tie against FC Basel, will follow doctor's orders and remain in Gelsenkirchen to continue his rehabilitiation.
Leon Goretzka will likewise stay in Germany for the time being as he recovers from an operation to remove his tonsils. The 18-year-old could still join up with the rest of the squad in the Middle East at a later date.
The Royal Blues will leave from Frankfurt on Friday for the familiar surroundings of Doha, where they have staged their previous two mid-season training camps. Some members of Jens Keller's side will board their flight for Qatar from Munich while Boateng has a shorter trip since he is currently on holiday in the Middle East.
A total of 27 players will then congregate in Doha to prepare for the second half of the season, but Huntelaar is not part of that group. Although tests on his right knee showed that he is making good progress in his recovery, it has been decided that the Dutch international has the best facilities to make a full recovery in Germany, where he will undergo an intensive training programme in Gelsenkirchen's Medicos rehabilitation centre.
January return, Jones departure?
The 2011/12 Bundesliga top goalscorer thus hopes to be fit to return as early as possible in the second half of the season. He may not be joining Jones in the Schalke team again, however, since the USA international, whose contract expires in the summer, could leave the club in the coming weeks. He has been given permission by sporting director Horst Heldt to remain in Germany in case "the situation changes" during the January transfer window.
"To enable him to assess offers, the 32-year-old will not travel to Qatar," read a club statement. Dennis Aogo and Marco Höger, both of whom are recovering from serious knee injuries, have also remained in Germany. Schalke will stage two friendly matches during their stay at the Hotel The Torch. On Saturday, 11 January they will face Bundesliga rivals Eintracht Frankfurt at the Al Nahyan Stadium while their other game has yet to be arranged.