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U.S. youth stars Weston McKennie and Haji Wright promoted to Schalke squad

Weston McKennie in action for Schalke's youth team.

United States youth internationals Haji Wright and Weston McKennie have been promoted to Schalke 04's first team squad for their final match of the Bundesliga season on Saturday.

Wright, 19, and McKennie, 18,  will travel with the first-team squad for the game at already-relegated Ingolstadt, with the 19-year-old Luke Hemmerich also making the trip.

"They are an alternative for the match day squad," head coach Markus Weinzierl told his prematch news conference.

Sporting director Christian Heidel reserved special praise for McKennie, a midfielder who could break into the team on a regular basis next season.

"It was clear to us that we could get him on a Bundesliga level," Heidel said, and looking at all three youngsters added: "We don't do it because it looks good, but because they have what it takes to become professionals."

Earlier this month, U.S. under-20 coach Tab Ramos wanted to call up McKennie for the U20 World Cup, held in South Korea from May 20 until June 11, but Schalke kept him back for the German U19 Championship.

Weston McKennie was refused permission to link up with the United States U20 squad.

Schalke were knocked out by Bayern Munich this week in the semifinals, and Ramos said he "didn't get any cooperation from Schalke" over McKennie's availability.

Meanwhile, Schalke marketing executive Alexander Jobst has told DerWesten that Chinese sponsor Hisense has not renew the partnership after the club failed to qualify for Europe.

Jobst said: "In the end, the Chinese only look at the Bundesliga table. They will not renew their contract. We are far from happy about this because trust in successful but also difficult times is very much part of a partnership."

Schalke are set to finish the Bundesliga season outside of the European positions after seven consecutive seasons in the Champions League and Europa League.

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.


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