Lions’ boss served well

Gareth watches ten English­men at Le­ices­ter

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports - BY LAU­RIE WHITWELL/

As much as a bat­tle for Premier League supremacy Le­ices­ter City’s 0-0 draw with Southamp­ton felt like an au­di­tion for the watch­ing Eng­land man­ager.

Gareth South­gate spent his fi­nal hours be­fore nam­ing his first squad at the King Power Sta­dium and by the end was blessed with hav­ing seen in ac­tion no fewer than 10 play­ers el­i­gi­ble to wear three lions.

Such a fig­ure in a sin­gle game has long been a rare sight in the English top-flight but while South­gate would be trou­bled by that sit­u­a­tion he could find cause for op­ti­mism here.

Clau­dio Ranieri is likely to have a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive as his side again strug­gled to re­pro­duce their form of last sea­son or the Cham­pi­ons League, although he can be con­tent that their long un­beaten run at home in the Premier League is ex­tended.

The match left both sides frus­trated and sta­tion­ary in midtable. Southamp­ton can be more pleased with the point hav­ing only re­turned from Europa League ex­er­tions 48 hours pre­vi­ously.

South­gate had plenty of rea­son to be in at­ten­dance. As well as Jamie Vardy and Danny Drinkwa­ter, South­gate could cast his eye over Marc Al­brighton and Danny Simp­son, whose case for a call-up had been strength­ened due to Nathaniel Clyne’s un­avail­abil­ity through in­jury.

For the vis­i­tors there was Fraser Forster and Ryan Ber­trand at the back, and Nathan Red­mond and Char­lie Austin form­ing a po­tent-look­ing at­tack. In what can be con­sid­ered an un­ortho­dox ap­proach from Claude Puel, Austin was op­er­at­ing on the left side with Red­mond up front.

That meant Wes Mor­gan and Robert Huth had Red­mond’s pace to con­tend with and the threat of Austin com­ing onto crosses at the far post, as hap­pened in the ninth minute.

Right-back Cedric cut onto his left to curl a cross into the box and Austin met the ball well but Kasper Sch­me­ichel was able to catch eas­ily.

Simp­son was alert to block another Austin chance 12 yards out but in the 15th minute Le­ices­ter had the post to thank for the scores stay­ing at nil.

Steven Davis found space mid­way into the hosts’ half and spot­ted Austin peal­ing off into the right chan­nel of the area. Davis pro­duced a chip wor­thy of the Ry­der Cup and Austin took lit­tle no­tice of the im­pos­si­ble an­gle to let fly first time.

Southamp­ton’s Vir­gil van Dijk in ac­tion against Le­ices­ter City’s Leonardo Ul­loa /Reuters.

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