Assistant boss says midfielder’s New Year return will be a huge bonus… MARK BOWEN has revealed that Ibrahim Afellay is closing in on a first-team retun but refused to put a concrete date on his first-team comeback.
However, after undergoing rehabilitation outside of the UK, the 30-year-old is now back at Clayton Wood working towards a potential return in the New Year.
Speaking to BBC Radio Stoke, the Potters assistant boss said: “He’s been training with the group but in situations when there’s been no contact.
“If we’ve had games then he’s been playing on both sides so he doesn’t get any tackles.
“Tuesday was a step forward because he was training with the group and we could see all his attributes that delighted us last year.
“You can almost forget that because it’s out of sight out of mind, but looking at all the qualities he’s got you can’t wait until he’s back challenging for a place.
“You have to be very cautious and I’m guilty of being a glass half full person – and things come back to bite me on the bum – but you hope within a week, two weeks that he is stepping up a bit more and maybe taking part in an U23 game to get an hour or even 90 minutes under his belt.”
He added: “Realistically, by the time the New Year comes he’ll hope he’s full scale up and running with minutes behind him and we are seeing the Afellay we’ve missed so much over the last few months.”