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Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Schalke boss ready to ring changes

Stephan Uersfeld, Germany Correspondent

Schalke coach Huub Stevens will make changes to his starting line-up as his side continue their attempt to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Stevens, whose players take on Arsenal at home on Tuesday having already beaten them 2-0 in London, saw his side succumb to a last-minute Bundesliga defeat to Hoffenheim at the weekend.

But he said the changes were "nothing to do with the defeat", explaining: "It's our general freshness. Some of the players are a little tired after our recent busy schedule."

Schalke conceded the decisive goal in stoppage time, and 22-year-old keeper Lars Unnerstall, who has been under the spotlight after some shaky recent performances, was again criticised.

Former Germany international Timo Hildebrandt, 33, the club's second-choice keeper, had recently complained that he was not being given a fair chance to compete for the No.1 spot.

But, asked about the goalkeeping position, Stevens said only: "We have three great goalies, and one of them will be in goal."

Meanwhile, Greek centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos could return to the starting formation despite suffering a cut to the head against Hoffenheim.

Midfielder Lewis Holtby could be rotated out of the starting line-up, with Julian Draxler coming in for him.

"I am 22, and I know haven't played my best games recently - I am also annoyed by that," Holtby said. "But I am motivated and fit, I am ready for Arsenal."

If Schalke beat Arsenal they will become one of the first teams to qualify for the last 16, but Stevens warned: "The only thing that counts is the task ahead of us. And it isn't easy.

"Arsenal are a good side with lots of quality. I've watched their recent games very attentively. We've prepared well."

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