Stoke's Jese Rodriguez set for Premier League return against Brighton
Jese Rodriguez will return to the Stoke squad for the first time in two months this weekend, boss Paul Lambert has confirmed.
The 24-year-old, who is on a season-long loan with the Potters from Paris Saint-Germain, has not been involved in a game since the win over Swansea on December 2.
Jese, an unused substitute for that game, was disciplined for leaving the stadium early after then-boss Mark Hughes made his final two changes.
The ex-Real Madrid striker has also had personal problems throughout this term having made frequent trips to the Canary Islands following the premature birth of his son Nyan.
Jese returned to training with Stoke late last month and was watched by Lambert when he featured for the under-23 squad on Monday.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's home clash with Brighton, Lambert said of Jese: "He will be back in the squad.
"He's had a bit of time out and I thought his fitness levels were down a little bit because of his personal stuff.
"But he is back now. I saw him playing with the reserve team and he did well so he comes back into it."
Jese began his Stoke career by netting the winner against Arsenal on his debut, but that remains his only goal for the club to date and the last of his seven starts came back in October.
There was another encouraging debut last weekend from midfielder Badou Ndiaye.
The Potters were beaten 2-1 by Bournemouth, the first loss Lambert had suffered since starting the job, though the performance of Senegal international Ndiaye greatly pleased his manager.
The midfielder moved to Stoke in a £14 million deal with Turkish club Galatasaray on transfer deadline day.
"I thought he was excellent,'' Lambert said of Ndiaye's debut. "He was on for 60-odd minutes and for a lad who had only come in on Friday and didn't know anyone's name as such, he fitted in brilliantly.
"A week's full training will have done him the world of good. His performance was first class and he will only get better," he added. "It could be huge for us because he's a bit different from the other guys and he will enhance the squad.
"I think it's given the others a lift. Footballers have to have the pressure of someone breathing down their necks and he has certainly done that."
Stoke will begin the weekend in the relegation zone but they could potentially go level on points with 13th-placed Brighton if they defeat Brighton.