Gelsenkirchen - Suitably rested FC Schalke 04 striker says he cannot wait for the competitive action to get under way in the week ahead.
'My big moment'
The Dutchman has yet to feature for the Royal Blues during pre-season following an extended break on the back of the Netherlands’ third-place finish at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but he doesn’t expect his goal-scoring form to suffer as a result.
"I’m fit," he told www.fcschalke04.de. "I kept myself in shape on holiday. I’m ready but I can obviously still go up a gear. It’s up to the coach whether or not I play [against Dynamo Dresden in the DFB Cup first round on Monday]. We’ve already spoken about my fitness and the game. I can play if I’m needed. I'd rather go without the friendlies anyway (laughs)."
Huntelaar missed almost the entire Hinrunde through injury last season, before returning post-winter to net ten league goals and help Schalke secure automatic qualification for the UEFA Champions League. The 31-year-old scored once in just three substitute appearances at the World Cup, but returned home with a bronze medal around his neck all the same.
"Third place was more than anyone expected from us before the tournament, especially after being drawn in such a strong group," Huntelaar explained. "My big moment came in a cracking game [in the last-16]. Of course you always want more, but at the end of the day it’s important that we achieved something."
'Lots of good teams in Germany'
Fully fit and back to something resembling the peak of his powers, the Dutchman now has his eyes trained on another strong season in Gelsenkirchen. Die Knappen edged a keenly-fought battle for third place in 2013/14 and Huntelaar for one expects a similarly close-run affair in the season ahead.
"There are plenty of clubs who have strengthened their squads and lots of good teams in Germany, so it’s hard to say who’ll be up there come the end of the season,“ he admitted. "We always need to perform well to finish amongst the top sides, which is why there’s not much point in looking at the other teams. We want to finish in a Champions League spot at least. That’s crucial for the fans, the players and the club."
First up, though, is that little matter of negotiating a first-round tie with third division club Dresden in the Cup. Schalke won the competition in 2011, but haven’t advanced beyond the third round since. "League and Cup games are the best - there’s nothing better," Huntelaar enthused. "It’s a very important game for us. We should have more than enough quality to get the job done."