Diao relieved to be back
Stoke midfielder Salif Diao admits he has struggled with the mental issues during his six-week injury lay-off. The Senegalese powerhouse is yet to feature so far this term after picking up a calf injury in pre-season but is edging closer to a return. Diao, who only signed a new one-year extension in the summer, played a full reserve game for the Potters on Monday night after resuming training last week. The 32-year-old is delighted to be playing football again and admits that his lay-off has been tough to handle as his team-mates got back into the swing of the football season. "I went to France for a week's treatment just to get away," he told The Sentinal. "It is hard coming here in the mornings, watching everyone else training and feeling useless. "You are walking around like a ghost on the training ground. "I got away for a week because it was starting to get in my head, but I am happy to be back and involved with the lads again." TargetThe former Liverpool player feels Sunday's trip to Goodison Park could be too soon for him, but has the following encounter with West Ham in his sights with extra time to recover during the international break. "I am not sure I will be ready for the Everton game and, besides, the team is doing very well," he added. "But it is up to me now. I have two weeks during the international break to work very hard. "I have to prove in training that I am fit enough to gain a place in the first team. But with how the team is playing at the moment, that will be very hard work." Stoke have picked up where they left off after last season's extraordinary Premier League debut campaign, with their only defeats so far this term coming to title challengers Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. Diao is impressed with his team-mates' start and is under no illusions that he faces strong competition for a central midfield spot, but he is determined to force his way back into the squad. "The team has done very well so far and that is no surprise to most of us. "We have sent out a strong signal which is completely different to last year when everyone said we were going to go down. "I haven't heard anyone this season talking about Stoke going down, but we need to keep pushing on the pedal."
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