Belfast Telegraph

Bojan to join Stoke's summer tour

Bojan Krkic will take another step towards full fitness on Stoke's pre-season trip to Singapore - even though he will not play any games.

But Potters left-back Erik Pieters will not travel to the Barclays Asia Trophy, which also features Everton, Arsenal and the Singapore Select XI, as he continues his rehabilitation following groin surgery this summer.

Bojan's promising first season in English football following his surprise transfer from Barcelona was cut short in January when he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in an FA Cup tie at Rochdale.

The 24-year-old returned for the start of Stoke's pre-season training on Friday and assistant manager Mark Bowen has confirmed the Spaniard will travel to the Far East with the rest of the squad, although he will not be involved in any matches.

"We didn't really expect to see him on the first day, we thought it might be a week or 10 days but he's come in with a smile on his face and he's looking a million dollars," Bowen told the Stoke Sentinel.

"You just have this thing at the back of your mind that you have to keep a lid on him because the expectations from us all - fans, media, staff, players - we can't wait for him to come back.

"We still have to protect him - and from himself at times, because he'd want to pull his boots and the red and white stripes on next Wednesday against Everton if he could.

"You've just got to make sure that when he does come back, he's back for good.

"At this stage we have to be very careful of non-contact, even if people are accidentally bumping into him, but he's getting there."

Stoke will play Everton in their Asia Trophy opener on July 15 before meeting either Arsenal or the Singapore Select XI three days later.

But Dutch defender Pieters, 26, will stay in the Potteries with the club's medical staff in the hope of being ready for the Premier League opener at home to Liverpool on August 9.

"I had surgery during the holidays and now I'm building my fitness back up," Pieters told Stoke City Player.

"I spoke with everyone here and we think the best choice is to stay back and let the boys focus on what's happening over there.

"Of course I will miss them but I think the best way is to stay here to try and get fitter with my own work.

"This is now my fourth week and it's around a six-week process.

"I'm on schedule and everything feels good, it's now time for me to push on."


From Belfast Telegraph