Leicester Mercury

No holiday as boss sets his sights on Euro glory


- By JORDAN BLACKWELL jordan.blackwell@reachplc.com @jrdnblackw­ell

LEICESTER City are about to embark on a European campaign but Brendan Rodgers has told his players that their holiday ends here.

Tonight’s clash with Zorya Luhansk at the King Power Stadium (8pm kick-off) kick-starts City’s busy schedule, with two games a week every week from now until Christmas, barring the November internatio­nal break.

For those that experience­d City’s last foray into Europe, like Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton, and welltravel­led players like Youri Tielemans and Timothy Castagne, this is nothing new.

But for the fresh-faced stars playing in a continenta­l competitio­n for the first time, like James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and James Justin, it will be a learning curve.

Because the mental and physical effort required to compete on two fronts makes playing only once a week feel “like a holiday”, believes Rodgers, right.

“I mentioned to the players at the beginning of the season in our chat before any games got under way that it’s a really busy schedule but an exciting season for us with all of the games ahead, and that we need everyone,” the City boss said.

“So it’s about preparing well, preparing for every game as if you’re going to play and, if you don’t play, giving everything to help the team.

“For a lot of the players, it’s new. When you have one game a week, it’s like a holiday.

“When you come into European football, there’s a cost physically and mentally and you have to be ready for that. But it’s also what makes you as a player: playing the games, getting the experience­s and winning.”

City start the Europa League as fifth favourites to win it, behind only Spurs, Arsenal, AC Milan and Napoli.

Having watched Sevilla beat Inter Milan in last season’s final just two months ago, Rodgers would love for his side to experience that joy.

“We’d like to go as far as we possibly can,” he said.

“I remember watching the Sevilla final and seeing the joy they had of winning and earning qualificat­ion again for European football.

“That’s motivation for any team that comes into it.

“But you strip it back and you want to get out of the group stage, and as soon as we can, and then we want to go as far as we possibly can.”

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 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? TRIUMPH: Sevilla beat Inter Milan in last season’s Europa League final in Cologne
GETTY IMAGES TRIUMPH: Sevilla beat Inter Milan in last season’s Europa League final in Cologne

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