Leicester Mercury


Scoring streak sees Kelechi win player of the month

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

LEICCESTER City will open contract talks with hotshot striker Kelechi Iheanacho this summer as a reward for his exceptiona­l form.

City host Iheanacho’s former club, and the current Premier League leaders, Manchester City tonight, with the Nigerian the man making the headlines.

Seven goals in four games for Iheanacho has kept City on course for Champions League qualificat­ion and helped them book a place in the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1982.

His contributi­on has been particular­ly timely, with James Maddison and Harvey Barnes both watching from the sidelines and with City in desperate need of attacking quality.

Iheanacho’s form has earned him the Premier League’s player of the month award for March, and, at the season’s end, a new deal.

He has just over one year remaining on the contract he signed when he first swapped Man City for Leicester in 2017.

“He’s definitely someone we would want to have,” said Rodgers. “You’ve seen the developmen­t and the improvemen­ts, that’s what you aim to have, a squad that is getting better and that can contribute for you.

“I’m pretty sure there will be something organised between him and his representa­tives.

“You’re seeing a young player now at the top of his game.

“When you look back to when he was playing at Manchester City, a young developing player, he wasn’t playing so much, so didn’t have a lot of first-team experience.

“He’s come to here for a big fee and then he’s coming into a team that’s playing with one of the league’s great strikers. There’s been adaption for him.

“I can only speak from the two years I’ve been here. His work and his ambition to become a better player is there.

“He’s a wonderful character in the squad, he’s smiling, he’s always happy. And whatever role he’s been asked to play, he’s played it very well.

“It’s clear to see he plays better when there’s someone up there around him and sometimes that takes you, as a coach, a bit of time to see that when you’re learning about players.

“The combinatio­n between him and Jamie (Vardy) has been very good.

“And for him at 24, there’s still a lot of improvemen­t left.”

Even though Maddison is now fit, Iheanacho looks set to keep his place this weekend, the forward developing into a player who must start after years as a deputy, both at City and up in Manchester.

With City in the market for a striker in the summer – the club looking to a time when Vardy will no longer be able to lead the line every game – Iheanacho’s competitio­n will increase.

But he has shown a resilience to reach this point,

Rodgers has said.

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PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Kelechi Iheanacho

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