• Kyodo

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Defender Atsuto Uchida returned to Japan on Tuesday confident that he can still do a job for Schalke, despite managing just one game for the Bundesliga club this season after returning from a serious knee injury.

The right-back returned to action after a 21-month injury break in Schalke’s 2-0 UEFA Europa League defeat to RB Salzburg in December.

That became the only game he was involved in.

But speaking to reporters at Narita airport, he said, “I am ready to play. Now it is just a case of the coach giving me the call.”

Uchida, capped 74 times by Japan, underwent surgery on his right knee in the 2015 offseason and returned to Japan to continue rehab.

He moved to Schalke from Kashima Antlers in 2010 and has one year left on his current deal, but was noncommittal when asked about next season.

“I have various things to think about and I don’t know. But I have to pay for diapers,” he said, referring to his baby daughter who was born last fall.

Japan defender Gotoku Sakai, who was made Hamburg captain during the middle of the season and helped the team keep its place in the German top flight, also returned home Tuesday.

“I battled for one year conscious of giving everything I have for the team,” said Sakai.

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