Cologne - The winter break has been a long time coming for FC Schalke 04 captain .

The Germany international had next to no time at all to recuperate following last summer's in Brazil, before jumping straight back on the domestic horse with the Royal Blues. Almost five months down the line, he can just about relax.

'I didn't get a full pre-season'

"There wasn't much time to recharge the batteries," Höwedes told his club's website "I didn't get a full pre-season. It went from zero to 100 just like that. Now I'm looking forward to having the right amount of preparation behind me and putting in the groundwork as a team."

In spite of the jam-packed schedule for club and country, Schalke's time-poor defender started 13 of the Ruhr district outfit's 17 Bundesliga fixtures during the 2014/15 Hinrunde. Results were mixed, but the seeds have at least been sown for a fruitful new year, with Schalke currently fifth in the league and through to face Spanish giants Real Madrid CF in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Höwedes positive

"I'm a very ambitious person and still want to achieve a lot with Schalke 04," Höwedes revealed. "I'm positive about the coming weeks and I'm sure we'll do well after the break. "We want to work on a lot of areas, fine-tuning tactics and improving our fitness."

To that end, the Royal Blues will spend 11 days in Doha in preparation for their first competitive fixture of 2015 at home to Hannover 96 on 31 January. Höwedes and Co. were beaten 2-1 in the reverse fixture, but lightning is unlikely to strike twice once die Knappen's stocks have been suitably replenished under the Middle Eastern sun.