Bayer Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt rejects exit rumours

Bayer Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt has rejected rumours that he will leave the club in the summer to join promotion hopefuls Leipzig.

The 48-year-old is suspended for two more matches after clashing with the referee in Leverkusen's 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Feb. 21.

And Bayer have dropped to sixth in his absence, losing ground on the rest of the teams battling for a Champions League spot with a 3-1 defeat at Mainz.

A return to Europe's biggest club competition remains Leverkusen's goal this season, but with six teams competing for the two remaining spots they could also finish the season outside the European places altogether.

Earlier this week it was reported that Leipzig are interested in bringing in Schmidt -- who coached at Salzburg before joining Leverkusen in 2014.

"I am under contract at Bayer until 2019, and I acted from conviction when prolonging my deal [in May 2015]," Schmidt told Express on Wednesday. "I know about the backing I have here from the hierarchy. We all have great goals."

Express were not the only paper to report the Leipzig rumour. Sport Bild also covered the story on Wednesday and said that Schmidt could become part of a managerial carousel in the summer, especially since his position at Leverkusen has not improved following the clash with referee Felix Zwayer in the Dortmund match.

Meanwhile, Leverkusen's caretaker coach Markus Kroschke will have to do without up to seven injured players in Wednesday's meeting with strugglers Werder Bremen.

Earlier this week, midfielder Kevin Kampl was sidelined with a fracture of the fibula, Chile international Charles Aranguiz has not featured all season after an Achilles tendon tear, centre-backs Omer Toprak and Kyriakos Papadopoulos are also out injured, and mainstay Jonathan Tah could miss the match with muscular problems.

Attacker Stefan Kiessling is still out with a hip injury, while captain Lars Bender has suffered another set-back on his way to a comeback after an ankle injury suffered in October.

The 26-year-old tore a muscle in his thigh and has been ruled out until April.