London - Stoke City forward Bojan Krkic could return to the side for the first time since January when the Potters take on Luton Town in their second-round Capital One Cup tie later on Tuesday, assistant manager Mark Bowen has said.
The former Barcelona forward suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in an FA Cup fourth round game against Rochdale and has not featured for the senior side since, although he played a full 90 minutes with the under-21s last Saturday.
"I would imagine that Bojan will feature in some capacity," Bowen told the club's website (www.stokecityfc.com)
"We have had to protect him from himself a little bit to be honest because he has been chomping at the bit to get back out there and play competitive football again," the Welshman added.
The 24-year-old former Barcelona player scored crucial goals in wins over Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton last season before the injury brought his campaign to a premature end.
"This is a big game for him because it is one that he is going to get challenged physically by Luton, and that is something we haven't been able to prepare him for in training.
"Even if we wanted to replicate the hustle and bustle of a normal Premier League game, the lads wouldn't want to go in too hard on him and risk causing him any damage," Bowen said.
"Hopefully he is sitting in the dressing room come the end of the match, knowing that he is mentally and physically ready for Premier League football," manager Mark Hughes' assistant added.