September 25 - Luol Deng (pictured) is confident that the injury problems which forced him to miss the Chicago Bulls NBA play-offs last season and Britain's first appearance in the European Championships since 1981 are behind him.

The 24-year-old missed the final six weeks of the regular season and the play-offs with a stress fracture in his right tibia and averaged just 14.1 points - his lowest output since his rookie year in 2004-05.

Deng said: "I'm excited to be back.

"I want to be on the floor.

"As a leader, going through things like that, you see things sitting down and watching the game.

"I feel like I'm even more mature, and I'm going to come into the year and just bring that to the team, try to be a better leader on the floor or talking to the guys on the side.

"I really want to do a better job of it."

Bulls coach Vinny Negro is pleased to have Deng back for the new season which starts next month.

He said: "We need Luol to play at a high level.

"He's finally healthy.

"He's had a couple of injury-plagued seasons.

"But he's confident.

"He feels great.

"He's had a very productive summer.

"His weight, his body fat, all those things, he's probably in as good a condition as he's been in, and he knows how important he is to us."

Deng, who was born in Sudan but raised in Britain, has worked hard on his rehabilitation and believes missing the European Championships in Poland was a sacrifice he had to make to ensure he got his career back on track.

He said: "One thing I do is work very hard; I really don't take shortcuts.

"I feel like the past two years I've had unfortunate injuries.

"I'm excited to be back; I want to be on the floor.

"But I could say whatever I want to say [and] until I'm on the floor, and show that I put in the effort and the work.

"I wasn't worried at all about people questioning my injury.

"I knew that I was hurt and I know how much I love this game and I know I would play if I'm healthy.

"I [also] know sooner or later people would realise what the injury was and that I really couldn't do anything.

"But it's tough.

"People are always going to question what you're doing, and the best way to shut people up or keep them quiet is to be on the court and just play.

"And I love playing this game and I'm looking forward to it."

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July 2009: Deng confirms he will miss EuroBasket
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April 2009: Deng urged to keep positive by British coach
April 2009: New injury set-back for Luol Deng