Foxes in the hunt for West Brom win

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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