David Wagner speaks about life at Schalke, living in lockdown, Jonjoe Kenny and the Premier League

David Wagner
Image: David Wagner had guided Schalke into the Europa League spots when the Bundesliga was suspended

Fifteen months after leaving Huddersfield Town and David Wagner is happy with life back in Germany after turning Schalke from relegation to European contenders.

Wagner ended his spell in England after just over three years at the West Yorkshire club and he has since helped guide his new side into one of the Bundesliga's two Europa League places.

But, like the rest of world football, the future of the current season remains uncertain, not just on the pitch but off it for players, supporters and football clubs in general.

"It's strange and totally unusual. Football is not very important at the moment," Wagner said.

"Nobody knows what's happening but I don't expect us to play until the middle of May at the earliest.

Socially distanced training at Schalke
Image: Socially distanced training at Schalke

"For the last two-and-a-half weeks we have been training on the grass but only in groups of two. And then in the second week in groups of eight but without any challenges, so the players have had to keep their distance of two metres between themselves and their team-mates. So it's not real training but more passing and shooting drills."

Although these are challenging times, Wagner said he has to make sure his team are ready for the return of the Bundesliga season, even if that happens to be behind closed doors.

"I think for us it is our only chance to play as soon as possible, and we have to be realistic," Wagner added.

"The most important thing is we play and we get the television money. The clubs need it because if we wait for months then some clubs will not survive, so we have no chance."

Jonjoe Kenny
Image: Wagner would love Jonjoe Kenny to extend his stay

Wagner returned to England to make one of his signings last summer, with Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny heading to the Gelsenkirchen club, and he would love to see 23-year-old stay longer.

"He has done great for us since we signed him on loan. He's a regular starter, he's scored and given assists and he's a great bloke as well," he said,

"He's highly respected in the dressing room and from our supporters.

"It looks like we won't have the financial power to buy him and if Everton like to sell him then we are more or less chanceless. We are very keen to keep him at our club, and if there is a chance to extend the loan then obviously we'd like to speak.

"But with all the clubs it's difficult to have conversations because nobody knows how much money we'll have next season and in the summer and this makes it difficult to negotiate anything at the moment."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp embraces best friend David Wagner of Huddersfield
Image: Wagner hopes Jurgen Klopp will get the chance to celebrate a Premier League title

Wagner admits he still keeps a close eye on the Premier League and is delighted to see his close friend Jurgen Klopp leading the way with Liverpool at the top of the table:

He added: "I really hope for him that the Premier League season will get finished, that he and Liverpool get what they deserve, the Premier League title, even if it will be strange that they have to lift the title in a stadium without supporters after a game behind closed doors.

"He's one of the best managers in the world and with the success that his team are having he deserves all the credit. And apart from this he is a good fella and a great character and I am very proud of him."

Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner enjoys Tuesday's promotion parade
Image: Wagner has fond memories of his 2016/17 promotion campaign with Huddersfield

Wagner left Huddersfield Town by mutual consent in January last year after leading them to promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history in 2017 via the Championship play-offs. But he talks fondly of his time in West Yorkshire and insists the decision to move on was the right one for him and the football club:

He said: "It was the right thing to do for me because if you have the feeling you can't help any longer and you've got everything out of your players and it is not good enough then it is very stressful.

"The biggest problem for me is that if you are in the race you can't develop yourself to try and educate yourself and this is what I loved in my break from football. I was able to look to the left and to the right, so it wasn't just about having less stress, it was about educating myself and that was interesting for me.

"There are moments when I miss England because it was a great time. But it's nice to be back home and working for Schalke, one of the biggest clubs in Germany. This club nearly got relegated last season and now we are fighting for Europe which is a great success so far."

On a potential Premier League return Wagner added: "I will never say it will never happen, but I'm happy where I am and I'm happy to have a contract with one of the best clubs and I have to do the best for my club. I'm trying to push the club as far as I can and what I started here isn't done yet. But no one knows what happens after, and for sure it would be great to be back in the Premier League at one time in the future."

Join Sky Bet Club and track your progress towards a £5 free Bet

Join Sky Bet Club and track your progress towards a £5 free Bet

Opt in and bet £25 or more before 23:59 on Sunday. Free bets credited by 7pm on Monday.

Around Sky