News Live Scores
Schalke 04

'I'm fired up' - McKennie ready for start of Schalke's season

05:24 BST 06/08/2019
Weston McKennie Schalke
The U.S. national team midfielder is not fully fit, but looking forward to pushing on under new manager David Wagner

U.S. national team midfielder Weston McKennie says he is "fired up" for the new Bundesliga season as he is expected to take on an even bigger role with Schalke.

McKennie broke through at Schalke during the 2017-18 campaign, making 25 appearances, and remained a regular fixture last season with 33 appearances and two goals across all competitions.

Despite a frustrating campaign in which Schalke finished 14th, it was a strong season on a personal level for McKennie, who cemented himself as a fixture with the USMNT in the lead up to and during this summer's Gold Cup.

Now back with Schalke for pre-season after suffering an ankle injury during this summer's CONCACAF tournament, McKennie is eager to get started with the club as the team begins under new manager David Wagner.

"I’m feeling good, but I’m not fully fit yet. That is totally normal after a long break though. I have had another week and a half of training and feel fitter every day," McKennie told Schalke's official website.

"Our coaching staff work very hard with me and have created a special program to get me to 100 percent as quickly as possible. In Mittersill, for example, I completed a few extra training sessions with the fitness coaches."

He added: "That is the aim [to be ready for the start of the season]. I want to help the team and I am fired up for the season."

McKennie recently signed a new deal with Schalke, putting pen to paper on a new deal in July that will keep him with the German side until 2024.

The 20-year-old midfielder says that decision was an easy one, as he's already found a good relationship with new manager Wagner.

"The club approached me and I was immediately taken by the idea. My initial contract ran until 30 June 2022. It was not a difficult decision for me. I owe a lot to the club, I turned pro and I feel really happy here."

He added: "[Wagner and I] have spoken several times. He is a good guy and suits Schalke. I’m looking forward to working with him."

The midfielder was deployed at a number of position last season, having played in the central midfield, as a center back and at fullback at times throughout his season.

McKennie, though, has a preference, and that preference is to play in a central role, whether that's in a more attacking sense like with the U.S. or in a more defensive role similar to that which he played when he first came up at Schake.

"I have shown in the past that I can play in almost any position. The only thing I can’t do is play in goal! 

"I believe that I can show my abilities best as a holding or central midfielder. When I’m in the middle, I can see the game from all angles."

Schalke are set to open their season on Saturday against fourth-tier side SV Drochtersen/Assel in the DFB-Pokal before kicking off the club's Bundesliga campaign against Borussia Monchengladbach on August 17.