The resurgence of Stoke City in recent weeks will receive another boost in the near future. Another option in midfield will soon be at Mark Hughes’ disposal as Ibrahim Afellay nears a return.
Dutchman Ibrahim Afellay has spent the last six months on the sidelines.
Afellay arrived at the bet365 Stadium at the end of the 2014/15 season. Having been on the books at Barcelona since 2011, his contract at the Nou Camp ran out enabling the Potters to secure his services on a free transfer.
Before his move to the Catalan giants, Afellay was in tremendous form at PSV Eindhoven. The midfielder managed to bag 35 goals in 159 games for the Eredivisie outfit.
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Since his move to Stoke, Afellay has often been a relied-upon option.
Afellay will be eager to get back to regular football
The ex-“Oranje” playmaker fitted straight in once he arrived in Staffordshire.
In the 2015/16 season Afellay made 31 appearances, scoring twice. Those numbers would likely have been higher, had a training ground injury not ended his season early.
At the end of April, a cruciate knee ligament injury ended the campaign early for the Stoke number 14.
Although his exact return date is unknown, Afellay is expected to make a return to training sooner rather than later.
Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has of course been monitoring his progress.
Speaking to the Stoke City official website, Hughes said on the Dutchman’s recovery and progress:
"He has worked very hard and was fit enough to join the group. He made conditional steps and his left knee has become stronger"
Is there going to be a spot for him to return to?
With the ever-improving performances of the Stoke players all over the pitch, is there a spot on the team sheet available for him fill?
The current three man midfield of Joe Allen, Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri are undoubtedly on form.
With Allen particularly impressing, will Hughes be willing to hold the rhythm in the “number 10” position?
It may be that Afellay will have to be patient and wait his time on the bench.
We wish you a healthy return, Ibrahim.