Leicester boss Sven-Goran Eriksson believes long-term injury absentee Aleksandar Tunchev could be back by Christmas.

The Bulgarian defender has endured almost two years of injury problems since tearing a cruciate knee ligament at Crystal Palace in an FA Cup game in January 2009.

He has made a couple of attempted comebacks only to suffer further problems. However, the 29-year-old is making encouraging progress and has recently stepped up his training.

"He is in full training but can't train every day because the knee gets swollen," Eriksson told the Leicester Mercury. "I feel sorry for him but he must be mentally very strong with all the injuries.

"He is a good boy, quiet and works hard both on the pitch and in the gym. I hope we can see him back soon and I hope for the club and the fans he can play games for us. I hope he can play a game by Christmas.

"I like him as a player. You can see, even if he is far away from match fitness, he is a very good footballer. He knows exactly what position to take up, he is calm, good on the ball."

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Aleksandar Tunchev