Stoke City midfielder Peter Etebo has revealed an update regarding his fitness ahead of the club’s clash with Derby County in the Championship on Saturday.
The Nigerian international was given extra time to recover this summer by manager Nathan Jones after representing his country in the African Cup of Nations (via the Stoke Sentinel).
Having missed Stoke’s defeats to Queens Park Rangers and Charlton Athletic earlier this month, Etebo marked his return to action with a promising cameo performance in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic in the first round of the Carabao Cup.
Yet despite impressing at the DW Stadium, the 23-year-old has admitted that he is not yet fully up to speed following his excursions for Nigeria.
Speaking to the Stoke Sentinel, Etebo said: “I think I’m going to be fine, I’m going to be alright and the gaffer and my teammates all know I have to come in gradually.
“But trust me, I’m going to be fine.
“If the gaffer is going to put me in (against Derby) I’ll be happy but I can’t just say that I want him to put me in.
“I understand that I have to get back in gradually.
“I can’t say to him that I want to play 90 minutes and then after the first half I’m dead.
“If I come in gradually I know I will hit my peak.”
Etebo was one of the only shining lights in what otherwise proved to be an incredibly underwhelming 2018/19 campaign for Stoke, as he excelled in the heart of midfield for the Staffordshire-based outfit.
When you consider that Etebo featured on 37 occasions for the Potters last season, it would understandably be extremely tempting for Jones to field him from the start against Derby on Saturday.
However, with the former Las Palmas man admitting that he may not be ready to play a full game due to a lack of match-fitness, it may be wise for the Potters to use him as an impact substitute over the coming weeks.
Whereas Stoke have struggled considerably this season in Etebo’s absence, the last thing that they will want to see is the midfielder picking up an injury as a result of being rushed back into action.
Therefore, instead of bringing Etebo back into the fold, Jones may have to put his faith in the likes of Joe Allen and Sam Clucas to deliver the goods at the bet365 Stadium at the weekend.