Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04's preparation for Matchday 21's crunch game away at Bayer 04 Leverkusen has been boosted by positive news on the fitness of trio , and captain Benedikt Höwedes.

All three have struggled with injury in recent weeks, with Draxler's last appearance coming against FC Basel 1893 in the UEFA Champions League back in December. However, after missing eight league games, the 20-year-old attacker was able to participate in first team training for the first time in two months on Wednesday and could feature at the BayArena, although head coach Jens Keller admits he is "certainly not fit to start".

Höwedes an option, Uchida returns home

Central defender Höwedes is also touch and go to make the starting XI after a thigh problem, but can likewise hope to receive some action from the bench. Neustädter, meanwhile, has recovered from a knee injury sustained in the 2-0 win against Hannover 96 last week.

One man definitely out of the game is Japanese full-back Atsuto Uchida, who Keller confirmed "will likely need surgery" after tearing a thigh muscle against Hannover. The 25-year-old has returned to his homeland to undergo his rehabilitation.

Schalke have been in excellent form in 2014 so far, registering three straight wins to tighten their grip on fourth spot and the final UEFA Champions League place. Victory on Saturday (kick-off 18.30 CET) would take the Royal Blues to 40 points, just three adrift of die Werkself who are currently second.