Ranieri to Foxes: Get up and fight

Leicester City goalkeeper Ben Hamer screams in frustration after conceding a fifth goal during the Champions League match at Porto. The Foxes are hoping to bounce back from that defeat when they host Manchester City in the Premier League today.
Leicester City goalkeeper Ben Hamer screams in frustration after conceding a fifth goal during the Champions League match at Porto. The Foxes are hoping to bounce back from that defeat when they host Manchester City in the Premier League today.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Leicester manager expects a reaction from his players after tough start to the season

LONDON • Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has demanded that his players show the same kind of "fight" that saw them defy all odds to clinch the English Premier League title last season.

The Foxes are currently 16th in the league and only two points above the relegation zone.

They host Manchester City today and Ranieri refused to talk about the recent form of key players like Jamie Vardy, insisting that it is a team effort and that they should not give up their title crown without a fight.

Said the Italian: "I don't want to talk about the key players, I speak about the team, okay? And they know, the players, they know very well. I want them to play well, to play for the team, to fight, to be strong, competitive, that is what I want. No more.

"Last season, we won because some teams didn't fight as well as us. So we must come back, not to win the title, but to defend the title, to not be in the relegation zone. That is what we want to do.

"Now it's important to react, together, and to play for the team."

Striker Vardy, who is without a goal in his last 16 club games, Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Andy King are expected to feature against City after being left at home in midweek for the 5-0 Champions League defeat by Porto.

FIGHTING WORDS

Last season, we won because some teams didn't fight as well as us. So we must come back... to defend the title, to not be in the relegation zone.

CLAUDIO RANIERI , Leicester manager, rallying his men to put up a team effort against Manchester City. The Foxes, seeking just their fourth league win this season, are two points above the relegation zone.

Danny Drinkwater, however, will not play as he serves the final game of his three-match domestic ban.

City are looking to bounce back from their 1-3 loss to Chelsea last weekend and Spanish forward Nolito said he is happy with Pep Guardiola's rotation policy even as he eyes a return to the team to face Leicester.

Nolito is eager to start ahead of striker Kelechi Iheanacho in the absence of the suspended Sergio Aguero, but revealed that, even if he is left on the bench, he will accept his manager's decision.

"Coming to a team like this I knew how difficult it would be to play in such a competitive team, with very good players," he said. "The manager is rotating - sometimes he plays one player, another time he'll play another - and honestly, right now, I'm very happy.

"From a selfish standpoint, of course I would like to play in every game but in the end, all the Premier League and Champions League matches are demanding, very physical, and the coach is doing well to rotate the squad.

"The manager is the one who decides and I'll be ready for him when he needs me."

Guardiola remains optimistic that Raheem Sterling will be fit for today's trip to the East Midlands.

The England winger has missed City's last two matches with a knee problem, and Leroy Sane has deputised in the absence.

"He's much better. He was not ready for the Champions League game against Celtic (in midweek)," Guardiola said. "Hopefully he will be ready for Leicester."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Ranieri to Foxes: Get up and fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe