PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Andrew Wooten and Bobby Wood return to action with the 2.Bundesliga season resuming, and Jermaine Jones's suspension is over, with him returning to Schalke's starting lineup.
FC Schalke 04 - SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Following a three-match suspension, Jermaine Jones returns to the Royal Blues' lineup against Fürth on Saturday.
Jones recorded his first career straight-red card in Schalke's 3-1 loss to Stuttgart on December 8, and after reducing his original suspension from four matches to three, he can return to manning the central midfield for Schalke coach Jens Keller.
His return to the lineup comes against the worst team in the Bundesliga, Fürth. The Kleeblätter have recorded only one win all season long, and in the last three matches, Fürth picked up three points.
Schalke will be without Kyriakos Papadopoulos because of a knee operation, Ibrahim Afellay because of a muscle injury and Ciprian Marica because of a meniscus injury. Fürth will be without Stephan Fürstner and Edgar Prib because of yellow card accumulation and a torn syndesmosis, respectively.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - SC Freiburg
After missing last week's match due to a knee injury, Fabian Johnson will man the left back position for Hoffenheim against Freiburg on Saturday.
Daniel Williams will dress for Hoffenheim but will start on the bench as they take on his former team.
Johnson picked up his knee injury during practice last week, but on Wednesday, the American defender came back to practice with his teammates and should be available to start for his relegation-threatened team.
Losing seven of its last eight matches, Hoffenheim has dropped into the direct relegation zone, sitting in 17th place and tied on points with Augsburg in the promotion playoff spot. The team has made some moves late in the transfer window, securing a loan deal for Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to help the league's worst defense.
Freiburg, meanwhile, sits when Hoffenheim was expected to at the beginning of the season. The Breisgau Brazilians are in eighth place, one point out of a European spot and are riding a five-match unbeaten streak into the weekend.
Hoffenheim has a laundry list of injuries, including Sebastian Rudy with an ankle injury, Sejad Salihovic with a torn meniscus, Joselu with muscle problems and Sven Schipplock with a a torn tendon.
Freiburg will be without Mensur Mujdza and Sebastian Freis because of back problems and a shoulder operation.
1. FC Nuremberg - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Tim Chandler and Nuremberg face a tough task in trying to slow down Mönchengladbach on Sunday.
Coming into Sunday's match, Mönchengladbach is riding a nine-match unbeaten streak in all competitions. This stretch has seen the Foals climb to seventh place, one point behind Schalke for the last European spot.
This week marks the second-consecutive week in which Nuremberg will have played a high-flying team. Last week, Der Club traveled to Dortmund and got hammered by the defending back-to-back Bundesliga champion, 3-0. Chandler and Co. will hope that they will have more success this weekend.
Neither team is reporting any significant injuries.
1. FC Union Berlin - SV Sandhausen
With the 2.Bundesliga season resuming this weekend, Andrew Wooten will start at right outside midfielder for Sandhausen, as they travel to Berlin on Friday.
Wooten has played sporadically throughout this season on loan to Sandhausen, but when he has seen the field, the American forward has manned the right wing more often than not. Coach Hans-Jürgen Boysen will try it again, as Sandhausen sits one point below 16th place and a chance at safety.
Berlin finds itself on the other end of the standings from Sandhausen, five points out of the promotion playoff spot. The team picked up 15 points in the last eight matches before the winter break to shoot up the standings.
Defender Daniel Schulz and midfielders Nico Klotz and Alexander Riemann are out with adductor muscle problems, a pinch nerve and a ligament tear, respectively. Marc Pfertzel, Christian Stuff, Björn Jopek and Silvo Carlos de Oliveira are out for Berlin with yellow card accumulation, illnesses and a sprained ankle.
TSV 1860 Munich - 1. FC Kaiserslautern
Bobby Wood, who could start at forward for Munich, will have one last opportunity to cement his starting spot when the Lions host Kaiserslautern on Monday.
The Lions spent the winter break stocking up on attacking options. Despite having one of the 2.Bundesliga's best defenses, Munich sits in sixth place, five points off the promotion playoff spot, and the fifth-worst goal total has been a factor in keeping the team from making a run at promotion.
Because of this, Munich brought in Norwegian winger/forward Ola Kamara and veteran Robert Friend, and with captain Benjamin Lauth returning from his suspension next week, Wood has a lot of competition up top in the Lions' 4-4-2 formation.
The home team can really help itself with a win over Kaiserslautern. The Red Devils sit in the promotion playoff spot, which the Lions are currently chasing, and Kaiserslautern slumped into the winter break, losing its last three matches.
Outside of Munich's Lauth, neither team is reporting any injuries or suspensions at time of publication.
Preußen Münster - SV Wehen Wiesbaden
With the top three teams in the 3.Liga all within one point, Matt Taylor and Münster continue their promotion push against Wiesbaden on Saturday.
The Eagles earned a 3-1 win over Hansa Rostock last week, and combined with Karlsruhe's win over first-place Osnabrück, they pulled to one point back with 46 points.
Despite being in 12th place, Wiesbaden can't feel too comfortable in relation to the relegation zone. The away team has a three-point cushion with Halle, which sits in the last relegation spot, and the team will look to increase that cushion.
Münster will be without Patrick Kirsch and Kevin Schöneberg with red card and yellow card suspensions, while Wiesbaden is not reporting any injuries or suspensions.
Knee problems continue to hamper Hannover captain Steve Cherundolo, who will miss his third-consecutive match when the team travels to Bremen on Friday.
Right back Michael Parkhurst is set to sit on the bench again when Augsburg faces Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Joe Gyau will not be available for St. Pauli against Energie Cottbus on Sunday because of knee irritation.
Preston Zimmerman looks set to make the bench for Darmstadt against Burghausen on Saturday.
In a Stuttgart Derby, Royal-Dominque Fennell will miss for the Stuttgarter Kickers on Saturday, as he continues to recover from groin surgery. Jerome Kiesewetter will probably not feature for Stuttgart II in the match.
Parker Walsh will not feature for Karlsruhe when the team hosts Bielefeld on Saturday.