Ranieri eager to retain main coaches

LONDON • Claudio Ranieri has urged Leicester City to reward two key members of his staff with new contracts to help the football club build on this season's success.

The Premier League leaders will have the influential Riyad Mahrez in their squad to face Newcastle United on Monday despite the Algerian limping out of last weekend's win over Watford with cramp.

Ranieri revealed that Mahrez, who was discovered by the head of recruitment, Steve Walsh, playing for the French Ligue 2 side Le Havre in 2014, has trained this week as Leicester aim to keep their unlikely title bid on course.

Having also unearthed the midfielder N'Golo Kante among others, Walsh has been a reported target for Arsenal in the past, with Gary Lineker taunting the Gunners that they had "nicked the wrong scout" last month.

With Walsh's contract and that of the assistant manager, Craig Shakespeare, due to expire next season, Ranieri believes it is crucial that the club keep them.

"It's very important," he said. "I have asked that they have signed the same contract as me because I have a very good relationship with my staff. I prefer that everybody is happy with everything. The sooner they can sign, everybody is happy and we can continue to grow up."

Leicester will have to watch their nearest rivals in action this weekend before the meeting with Newcastle, with second-placed Tottenham Hotspur hoping to cut the gap to two points against Aston Villa tomorrow.

Ranieri said he would have preferred not to wait so long for their next match and expressed his surprise at how much Monday's opponents have struggled this season.

"We can work well, I don't know if there is something good for us. It's okay. I don't like too much to play Monday night, that's the rule and I can't change," he said.

"Now we are not thinking about how many points (we need), we are thinking about Newcastle. It's a difficult match, they are in a dangerous position.

"I can't believe why, they spent more than £100 million (S$196 million), and I think it will be another difficult match. They are fighting to survive."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2016, with the headline 'Ranieri eager to retain main coaches'. Print Edition | Subscribe