Mark Hughes has revealed Bojan Krkic is on course to return from injury for Stoke City at the start of next season.
After initially taking time to adapt following his close-season move to the Premier League, Bojan gradually blossomed prior to the turn of the year and turned in a series of match-winning performances, only to then suffer a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left knee during an FA Cup tie at Rochdale in January.
The former Barcelona forward is anticipated to be present at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday when Stoke end their campaign with a home game against Liverpool.
Ahead of that match, Hughes said: “He is progressing really well and we are hopeful, all being well, of having him available to us ready for the new season.
“We are hoping that he will be here on Sunday, giving his thanks to the fans for the support he has received from them.
“It’s a case of what might have been maybe if we’d had him all year but other players have stepped up to fill in.
“We have had to put up with a number of setbacks this season, and that is why we are more satisfied with what we have achieved this season [in securing a second successive ninth-placed finish] than 12 months ago.
Bojan was a cut-price signing for Hughes, who is eager to add more star quality to his squad prior to the 2015-16 season.
“We can’t hang our hat on getting players of his quality for that price again,” said the Stoke manager.
“We know our boundaries but we are still looking for good talent to improve the top end of the squad. Our depth is good, if we are going to improve it’s the first XI.”
Steven Gerrard is set to make his final appearance in a Liverpool shirt against Stoke this weekend and Hughes added: “The crowd at the Britannia will give him a nice welcome, I’m sure.
“He has had a tremendous career, and for the stick he may get, I am sure everybody will appreciate what he has achieved in the game.”
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