Kaoru Mitoma hopes patience pays off as he eyes pre-season – and a return to Japan.

The Albion winger is recovering from a back issue which kept him out of action from the 5-0 win at Sheffield United three months ago.

He is expected to feature when his club go to Tokyo for two friendlies against J. League opposition in late July.

Mitoma has been back out running at the Lancing training complex and revealed his recovery has been carefully measured.

He told Japanese media: “We were coming towards the end of the season and chose to take time, judging it would be better to return next season.

“I’ll be preparing for the pre-season matches depending on when they are.

“I’m not yet at a stage where I would be asked to play in a match straight away.”

Mitoma has made it clear via the club website he would expect to be ready to impress in games against Kashima Antlers and Tokyo Verdy at the National Stadium.

He could yet cap his injury-hit season by winning the Premier League’s goal of the season prize thanks to his solo strike at Wolves.