Freak injury-victim Haji Mnoga closing in on long-awaited Portsmouth return

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Haji Mnoga is closing in on a Christmas return following his freak injury.

The promising defender has been out of action since August, when he broke a metatarsal in his left foot.

According to Kenny Jackett at the time, Mnoga sustained the injury after falling off a curb while walking to Victorious Festival.

It means the 17-year-old has so far missed the Blues’ Trophy campaign, while has made just two appearances for the academy, both before the injury.

Mnoga, who turned out three times in Checkatrade Trophy last season, will once again be missing from tonight’s visit of Northampton in the competition.

But the end is in sight for the highly-regarded youngster.

Haji Mnoga made three appearances for Pompey in the Checkatrade Trophy last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Haji Mnoga made three appearances for Pompey in the Checkatrade Trophy last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Jackett said: ‘Haji Mnoga is there or thereabouts.

‘We always thought he would be back playing just before Christmas – and that is looking like bang on schedule.

‘He’s progressing well and is getting back into full training now, working outside.

‘If you look at the youth games, they are scheduled for up to December 21, which gives him 2-3 weeks to play before Christmas.

‘Haji had a good pre-season as well, but he has missed almost half a year with something that happened in an innocuous incident.

‘However, he is a young and strong lad and will get over it. He is close to coming back now, very close.’

While Mnoga is sidelined, Leon Maloney will be involved in tonight’s second-round fixture.

The Isle of Wight youngster has started all three of Pompey’s Trophy matches this term, helping them emerge through the group stages.

Since the 2-2 draw at Oxford United in October, he has fallen away from the first-team frame, failing to make the bench.

But Jackett is delighted with the attacking performer’s progress.

Pompey’s boss added: ‘I have been pleased with how hard Leon works.

‘He has developed and seems to be getting stronger and quicker all the time, which is particularly good for a winger.

‘Leon had been sub a few times and then we’ve had players coming back (from injury) so, maybe frustratingly, he has been 19th man on occasions, but it’s good experience for him.’