MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner will make his injury comeback from seventh on the grid at Motegi on Sunday.

The Repsol Honda star, who has missed three races following ankle surgery, has only limited movement in his right foot, although it was a set-up decision that the Australian ultimately felt cost him a shot at the front row.

"To be honest I thought we had a shot at the front row today," said Stoner, who had been holding second place after his first pole attack. "The first soft tyre we used we achieved a pretty good time and I knew we had something extra in reserve, in both myself and the bike.

"We thought with the second soft tyre we would improve but unfortunately we went in completely the wrong direction with the bike and I just had absolutely no rear grip.

"It wanted to just keep following me round and highside me. So I decided to play it safe and not push too hard.

"If we left the bike the same - which we never want to do, we always want to keep improving - we had a real shot of dropping off half a second."

Stoner, whose best lap time was 0.776s behind pole sitter Jorge Lorenzo, admits he isn't sure what to expect in the race.

"Physically I'm a little sore but not so bad, I'm just struggling to lift the bike out of the right hand corners and it's making setting up the bike more difficult than it should be.

"My team can see that my lean angles are nowhere near what they usually are. I can't get my foot out of the way, therefore I can't lean the bike over enough or pick it up quickly on the exit of the corner.

"I'm not sure what to expect tomorrow, I'll try to get another good night's rest and do our best."

Motegi will be the first of four remaining races before Stoner's MotoGP retirement.


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