Full fitness, or Vardy to miss game

LONDON • Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri said England striker Jamie Vardy will get his chance to equal Ruud van Nistelrooy's Premier League goal-scoring record against Newcastle United today only if he is "100 per cent fit".

Vardy, who can equal the Dutchman's mark of scoring in 10 straight top-flight games if he nets at St James' Park, missed England's friendlies with Spain and France because of a hip injury.

The 28-year-old is back training and eyeing van Nistelrooy's 2003 feat for Manchester United, but Ranieri is looking long-term.

"I speak to the doctor. If he's 100 per cent he plays," he told a press conference. "I don't want to risk a player for a match and then lose him for a month.

"I'm not thinking about (who takes) penalties or records. I'm thinking about Newcastle. It will be a tough match."

Should Vardy miss today's game but score in his next appearance, the Premier League has confirmed that his record will still count.

With 12 goals so far this campaign, the league's top scorer has been the subject of transfer speculation ahead of the January window.

Ranieri has no intention of cashing in and has told Vardy that his chances of playing for England in Euro 2016 will be better if he stays. But the Italian did not rule out a summer move.

"He's intelligent, he knows that very well. At Leicester, there's a very good group," he said.

Leicester are currently third in the Premier League table, one point behind Manchester City and Arsenal, who both have 26 points.

Ranieri said the secret to his side's success this season was "Italian tactics and English spirit".

"I want to work hard to improve both with Leicester," added the 64-year-old, who said his prime target was reaching the 40 points traditionally regarded as the minimum required to avoid relegation.

Newcastle are two points clear of the relegation zone in 17th place.

REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Full fitness, or Vardy to miss game'. Print Edition | Subscribe