Inside Track: Leicester

By SFC Media time Fri 11 Jan Leicester v Saints
Photo by Getty Images | Leicester City FC

We spoke to Rob Tanner of the Leicester Mercury to get the Foxes’ view ahead of Saturday's return to Premier League action at the King Power Stadium...

Saints and Leicester are set to meet for the third time this season, in what kind of state do the Foxes head into this encounter at the King Power Stadium?

They are licking their wounds after the FA Cup third round defeat at League Two Newport County. In the Premier League they had a good Christmas, except the home defeat to Cardiff of course. The wins at Chelsea and Everton, and the fantastic win over Manchester City had given everyone a boost after a challenging first half of the season, but the defeat at Rodney Parade was a huge setback.

The FA Cup is a competition the City fans really wanted the club to have a good go at and Claude Puel has been heavily criticised for making seven changes and leaving out top scorer Jamie Vardy and Ricardo Pereira, who has been in great form recently.

Claude Puel has named the same line-up in consecutive games just twice this season, what do you expect the team to look like on Saturday?

It will looking very differently to the one that ran out at Rodney Parade. It will be more like the side that won at Everton. Vardy will return, as will England internationals Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell in defence.

Papy Mendy and Wilfred Ndidi are the regular starters in midfield and I expect Ricardo and James Maddison to come back into the side.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24:   Jamie Vardy of Leicester City celebrates with team-mates after scoring his team's first goal from the penalty spot during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Leicester City at American Express Community Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Brighton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Jamie Vardy is in line to return for Leicester on Saturday. The striker turned 32 on Friday.

Vicente Iborra and Fousseni Diabate have left the club in the transfer window already, in what areas would Leicester ideally like to strengthen this month and which other business is likely to go through?

Claude Puel is allowing certain players to go out on loan or permanently to ‘rebalance’ the squad as he has had too many midfielders. Adrien Silva and Andy King are also expected to head out before the end of the window.

Iborra’s departure was more unexpected and it may prompt Puel to consider bringing in another midfielder, although he insists he still has enough cover, while without Vardy City have been struggling to score goals.

Puel had said he would leave youngster Harvey Barnes on loan at West Bromwich Albion, but his form coupled with City’s struggles in the final third have forced him to reconsider.

What would constitute a successful second half of the season now following exits from both knockout cups in recent weeks?

That is the biggest frustration for the supporters and why Puel was criticised after the Newport game. Unlike the other Premier League sides who went out, who all had something else to play for, whether it was survival or the title, City haven’t got any relegation fears and seventh appears to be the highest they can achieve in the league, so they could have gone full strength at Newport.

Now, remaining seventh would constitute the best possible second half of the season. Anything else would be a huge bonus.

How do you see the match unfolding?

A lot will depend on the start. City are notoriously slow starters and if they go behind they can struggle to break down stubborn defences. If they go in front then they have one of the best defensive records in the Premier League so it would be tough for Southampton to get back into the game.

City will be determined to give a response after what happened at Newport, so Saints may have to weather an early storm.


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