Leicester Mercury

Maddison in good spirits again but Perez may retain place

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JAMES Maddison’s return to fitness not only strengthen­s Leicester City’s options on the pitch, but boosts the feel-good factor at the club too, writes Jordan Blackwell.

After six games on the sidelines with hip pain, Maddison, right, has been declared fit to feature in tonight’s against Manchester City.

The timing of the injury will have doubled the disappoint­ment for Maddison in that he not only missed key City matches but also England’s latest fixtures.

But now in good spirits again, his “vibrancy” around the training ground is lifting the mood in the squad to even greater heights, manager Brendan Rodgers believes.

“With any player, that initial part brings the disappoint­ment when you know you’re going to be out for a period of time,” he said.

“I think the difficulty with him was that he could have woken up one morning and been absolutely fine.

“It’s been a process for him, and as the process has gone through and he’s found himself closer to playing, you’ve seen his spirits uplifted.

“These past few weeks he’s been great on the training field.

“It’s so good to have him back. I’m a big champion of his qualities, but also as a person, he’s very infectious and he’s got a wonderful charismati­c way in which he comes into the training ground and plays the game.

“It’s always good when you have that vibrancy around you. “He’ll play a part at the weekend and an important part for us between now and the end of the season.”

In the current 3-4-1-2 set-up, Maddison is battling for a starting spot in a competitiv­e area of the pitch, with Ayoze Perez impressing in the number 10 role against Sheffield United and Manchester United.

Dennis Praet is also available too, and in the goals on internatio­nal duty.

Rodgers hinted that Perez may keep his spot given his “outstandin­g” performanc­es, leaving Maddison to strengthen the bench, something the manager is very pleased to be able to do.

“The most important thing is having the availabili­ty of the players and then looking at each game to see which strategy we use,” Rodgers said when asked where Maddison might fit into his starting line-up.

“Ayo has been outstandin­g, when he’s come in for the last few games, he’s played in a role that suits him well and I can see him developing, his strength, his running ability and his mindset. In the last two games, he was very effective.

“I know the qualities of James Maddison as well, he’s been a huge player in my time here and he’s only going to get better.

“It’s about the strategy we bring to the game. I know whichever players I choose will give their all.”

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