Foxes in the hunt for West Brom win
Leicester City can end a solid week in style with a victory over West Bromwich Albion that would send them into the Premier League’s international break on a high. Yet for a club still making history and breaking down barriers, the Premier League champions had felt a little low heading into today’s clash with the Baggies.
A much-needed improved away performance brought a handy point in the league at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend before a creditable goalless draw in Copenhagen on Wednesday put them on the brink of the Champions League’s last 16 with a record of four group games without conceding a goal. Yet a disjointed performance in Denmark, allied to a fractured hand that will keep goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel out for up to seven weeks, left a slightly sour taste to what should have been a pleasing run for manager Claudio Ranieri.
The Italian will now put his trust in German international Ron-Robert Zieler, who has played in the Premier League games against Swansea City, Burnley and Manchester United as well as the EFL Cup tie against Chelsea. The 27-year-old has conceded eight goals in his last two games but he will now replace a man Ranieri rates among the best in the business. “It is a pity-Kasper was in very great condition but Zieler gives me confidence and I am very confident with him, so it’s okay,” said Ranieri. “It is difficult to say if Kasper is the best but for us he is the best. Kasper is very important for my team. “He had an operation last night and the surgeon said everything is okay,” added the Italian. “Now it depends on how long. “I don’t put a deadline on it because every man is different. Maybe two, three, five, six maybe seven weeks-I don’t know. “Kasper wants to play on Sunday! But that is normal. “Of course the hands, as for a boxer, are very important.”
BERAHINO BOOT CAMP
Ranieri made several changes in Copenhagen but is expected to revert to a more familiar Premier League line-up to take on Tony Pulis’s Albion. Record-signing Islam Slimani could come into contention after returning to training following a groin injury but Shinji Okazaki made an impressive case to keep his place alongside Jamie Vardy in attack when he scored and played well in victory over Crystal Palace in Leicester’s last Premier League game. Albion manager Pulis will again be without striker Saido Berahino, whose career continues to stall following more fitness issues. The 23year-old has now been sent to France for a four-day fitness camp that Pulis hopes will help him get back in shape to play in the Premier League. “Saido’s off at the moment in a fitness centre, working with a fella that I worked with when I was very young in management,” said Pulis. “He’s got a week there to top himself up, and he’s going to go through everything that we’ve done so far to enable him to be at a level that hopefully fingers crossed, when he does come back, that he’ll be sharp and able to maintain Premier League football.
“This is someone who’s in France, who I worked with 20 years ago. “He’ll look at everything we’ve done, assess what we’ve done and make a judgement on what Saido has to do over the next two weeks before the Burnley game.—AFP