Ducati MotoGP project director Livio Suppo has once again insisted that 2007 world champion Casey Stoner will be back with the team at Estoril.

After leading the 2009 world championship with two wins from the first five rounds, Stoner was sick at Barcelona then battled fatigue at the following four races.

Medical tests proved inconclusive and, after returning to Australia for the summer break, it was announced that Stoner would sit out the next three rounds and return to action - hopefully at full fitness - in Portugal on October 4.

But speculation, not helped by Ducati's attempt to sign Jorge Lorenzo, has fuelled escalating rumours that a) Stoner will not return until next season, b) has fallen out with the team and even c) has lost interest in MotoGP and might retire at the age of 23. All of which have been denied.

"The news from Casey is positive, he is getting stronger and I'm sure he will be back at full strength at Estoril," said Suppo, speaking ahead of this weekend's Indianapolis round.

Despite missing Brno, Stoner remains third in the world championship. His seat at Ducati has been temporarily taken by Mika Kallio.

Reigning world champion and 2009 title leader Valentino Rossi is now level with Stoner on 18 800cc race wins.


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