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Schmeichel has a gentle handshake, not like Wasilewski! - Ranieri

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri remains confident Kasper Schmeichel will return from a fractured hand before the end of the year.

The Denmark international sustained the injury in last month's goalless draw against Copenhagen in the Champions League, with Ron-Robert Zieler deputising in his absence.

Schmeichel is unavailable again when the Foxes travel to Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday.

However, the Italian said Schmeichel is on the road to recovery and he shook hands with his goalkeeper this week, an invitation he joked he is not so keen to offer to imposing centre-back Marcin Wasilewski.

"Everybody is available but Kasper Schmeichel," said Ranieri. "They trained well, it's an important game and we are ready.

"I hope Schmeichel will be ready before Christmas. It depends. I shook his [injured] hand. It was a gentle handshake, not a Marcin Wasilewski one!"

The champions have failed to match the remarkable standards they hit in their title-winning campaign last term and are just two points above the relegation zone after 13 matches.

Reports in the media have suggested that Leicester have already agreed a £15million deal for Genk midfield Wilfred Ndidi in a bid to boost their squad in January.

However, Ranieri was unsurprisingly non-committal, adding: "I can tell you it's only speculation. I don't speak about players that go in and go out.

"We are looking every day for all positions – not only one."

The visit to the Stadium of Light offers Leicester a great chance to revive their flagging league fortunes with Sunderland sitting bottom of the table.

The teams may be struggling at the wrong end of league, but Ranieri expects an open encounter.

"Whenever we play we try to win. We know on Saturday Sunderland have a chance to win. It will be a fight for all the 90 minutes," he said.

"They play so strong, defend well and deep. We both want to win so it will be an open match I think. We don't look at the table with fear because Foxes are fearless."