Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka is fit and training at full capacity after a stop-start spell on the sidelines. Whether or not he will play against RB Leipzig on Matchday 18 remains an open question that head coach Domenico Tedesco refuses to answer
The Germany star originally suffered from a persistent and painful stress reaction in bones in his lower leg ahead of Matchday 10 and missed three games with the Royal Blues as a result. He returned to action as a first half substitute at the unforgettable Revierderby that saw Schalke come back from 4-0 to draw 4-4.
Goretzka’s input was one of the key factors that lifted his team to such epic heights. Shortly afterwards, however, the pain in his lower leg resurfaced and on 6 December the team announced that he would be give time off to aid his recovery.
Despite suffering a minor setback at Schalke’s winter training camp in Spain, Goretzka returned to first-team training earlier this week.
The big question now is when will Goretzka be back in action? The Royal Blues could certainly use his talents in their upcoming clash against Leipzig, but Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco is still weighing the risks. Leipzig are a direct rival in the fight to qualify for the UEFA Champions League and a Schalke win would put five points between the sides. Playing Goretzka could make all the difference.
But it could also mean losing their talisman for another lengthy spell with almost the entire Rückrunde still to play. When asked about this dilemma in his pre-match press conference, Tedesco adopted a cautious stand. “Leon is free of pain... but we won’t take any risks”.
Whether his words were a candid surrender to the difficulty of the situation or a strategic pretence remains to be seen.
Watch: Leon Goretzka's top 5 goals.