Manchester City assistant manager Hans Backe has warned supporters not to expect Valeri Bojinov to be back in first-team action soon despite his return to training.
The Bulgaria international striker suffered a serious knee ligament injury just three games into his City career following a £5.75million summer transfer from Fiorentina.
The 21-year-old returned to light training this week, but Backe believes City may not see the best of the Bojinov until the start of next season.
He told the club's official website: "He will take time. He had his first session on Wednesday and I believe I am a little bit pessimistic, but I think with that kind of injury he will be fully fit in the summer.
"If we are lucky perhaps it could go quicker, but with that kind of injury I know it takes some months to be back.
"He is so hungry and you can see in each session he's done in the gym, training with the reserves one or two times and the first time back with us, because he's so lively.
"It was a shame for his injury but he will be a big boost for us."
Meanwhile, Backe has revealed that fellow striker Emile Mpenza has been passed fit to face Sheffield United in Sunday's FA Cup fourth round trip to Bramall Lane.