Former Barcelona forward Bojan Krkic working to restore fitness ahead of Stoke City return

Forward sees action for first time since suffering serious knee injury during FA Cup match in January

Stoke City's Bojan Krkic, right, in action during the Colonia Cup match in Cologne, Germany, against FC Porto on August 2, 2015. Peter Cziborra / Livepic
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Stoke City striker Bojan Krkic said his strength and confidence levels have returned after his first start in a match in six months.

The Spaniard had been out of action since late January after picking up a serious knee injury during an FA Cup tie against Rochdale, but he played more than an hour of last weekend’s Colonia Cup defeat to Porto.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes sounded a note of caution on Monday regarding Krkic's long-awaited return and said he would not rush the former Barcelona forward back into action, but Krkic said he is delighted to be playing again.

“I was happy to start and play over an hour, which was good for my fitness,” Krkic, 24, told Stoke’s website.

“When you play, of course you want to win, but the most important thing about preseason is improving your fitness.

“I feel really good and every day I feel much stronger, more powerful and more confident and I am happy with that.

“When you come back from a long time out, you need to play and take confidence and that is what I have achieved in the last two preseason games.”

Krkic proved a huge hit at Stoke after his £3 million (Dh17.2m) switch from Barcelona last summer.

He scored five goals in 18 games, including three in the five matches before his season-ending injury, but his return to first-team action seems on hold as Hughes suggested this week that Sunday’s Premier League opener against Liverpool would be too soon for him.

Hughes said the once-capped Spanish international is “not quite there yet and he understands that”, but Krkic plans to be involved in action sooner rather than later.

“I have been working very hard to be back before the season, that was my target,” Krkic said. “This week I am going to work hard every day so I can be 100 per cent for my first game back in the new season.”

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