Kung fu-kicking keeper returns for Schalke

Nuebel watches Schalke from the stands during his ban. (AP pic)

BERLIN: Bayern Munich-bound goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel will return for Schalke at Hertha Berlin on Friday for his first appearance since being suspended for a kung fu-style kick last December during a Bundesliga match.

The 23-year-old keeper returns after serving a four-match ban for kicking Frankfurt midfielder Mijat Gacinovic during Schalke’s 1-0 win late last year.

Nuebel, one of Germany’s best young goalkeepers, was then stripped of the Schalke captaincy after it emerged he had turned down a contract extension before announcing in early January he will join Bayern next season.

In Munich, Nuebel is expected to be groomed as successor in the Bayern goal to Germany skipper and club captain Manuel Neuer, who joined from Schalke back in 2011.

While serving his suspension, Nuebel was replaced in the Schalke goal by Markus Schubert.

However, the 21-year-old Schubert has a knee injury allowing Nuebel to return as the Royal Blues chase a win at Jurgen Klinsmann’s Hertha to bounce back from last weekend’s 5-0 thumping at Bayern.

With Schalke sixth in the table, seven points behind leaders RB Leipzig, coach David Wagner says Nuebel will remain first-choice “until further notice. For the time being, this is a good alternative”.

Wagner revealed that Schubert had been struggling with the injury which meant he could only been able to take a limited part in training recently.

“It was necessary to take him out of training, which wasn’t possible in the past few weeks,” added Wagner.