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Stoke City boss says former Tottenham midfielder is still recovering from a long-standing knee problem and the Potters' fans will see the best of him next season

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has defended his decision not to give Wilson Palacios an extended run in the first-team, insisting that he is still suffering the effects of a knee operation from 12 months ago.

The Honduran international has only started seven games this season, only lasting the full 90 minutes just twice.

The 29-year-old joined the Potters in the summer for £6 million with the expectation of being a midfield enforcer, but Pulis says he needs to handle the midfielder with care to ensure that he does not break down again.

Pulis told the Daily Mirror: “He is getting closer to being right, but he hasn’t been strong enough to get through games and there’s always that worry that if he is not fit enough, the injury will flare up again.

“He can only do a certain amount. We can only take him to certain levels and because he is not strong enough physically yet, he gets close to where it might break down.”

Stoke will continue to ease Palacios through this season and Pulis is certain that, after a full-pre season, Palacios will shine next term.

He added: “The close-season will be important in building up his strength on his own before he comes back for pre-season. Next season we will witness the best of him.”