Schalke captain Benedikt Howedes will miss several weeks of action after tearing his hamstring during Tuesday's Champions League elimination against Real Madrid, the club have announced.
The key 26-year-old central defender suffered the injury just before the hour mark of Schalke's 3-1 last-16 defeat in Madrid, after being humiliated 6-1 in the first-leg, ending their European campaign in miserable fashion.
"It's a catastrophe! We now have nine players out," bemoaned Schalke sporting director Horst Held as the team attempt to protect their third place Bundesliga status this weekend against rock bottom Eintracht Braunschweig.
Coach Jens Keller lifted the club into a Champions League spot last weekend with a 2-1 win at Augsburg while Bayer Leverkusen slumped 2-1 against Bayern Munich and fell three points back into fourth.
Schalke travel to second placed Borussia Dortmund next Tuesday in the Ruhr derby with a one point deficit while runaway leaders and unbeaten Bayern Munich lead the table by a staggering 23 points.
Howedes has had an injury hit campaign and Tuesday's injury was his third muscle tear in as many months.