Nicky Hayden has dismissed speculation that Casey Stoner will not return to MotoGP and expects his Ducati team-mate to be back to his best form once he has recovered from his current illness.
Stoner's performances declined when he began to suffer with an unidentified but extremely debilitating illness in early summer, and he eventually decided to sit out the Brno, Indianapolis and Misano races in a bid to recover properly.
The 2007 champion is due to return for the next event at Estoril, but there have been suggestions in the paddock that he could quit the sport altogether due to his condition.
Hayden said he had not discussed the situation with Stoner, but that he had no reason to think the Australian would not return.
"I'm under the impression that it's going to be Casey, unless you know something different?" Hayden replied when asked if he was certain of the identity of his 2010 team-mate.
"There are a lot of rumours going around, and it doesn't take long around here - people throw a little fuel... I'm not sure, I don't know. I got a text message from Casey at Indy and I would think he's going to come back and be strong.
"I don't know, I haven't spoken to him, but I would think he's missing it. Casey really enjoys riding motorcycles and enjoys the paddock."
He is also confident that Stoner will be competitive when he rejoins the series.
"I'd say he'll be back, and he'll be fast," Hayden said. "I'd say there will be a point when I'm wishing he'd go take another holiday...
"For me, for the championship and for Ducati, he's so fast. Sometimes he'll just go so fast it makes you shake your head. It would be a shame if he can't sort it out."
Mika Kallio has been promoted from the satellite Pramac team to the second factory Ducati seat in Stoner's absence. The Finnish rookie was faster than Hayden in practice at Misano today, but the former champion said he was not bothered by this.
"I watch my position, but I don't look and see who's in front of me, who's behind me and things like that," Hayden said.
"I've had strong team-mates in the past. I try the maximum always. I don't have them put on my board what position Kallio's in."