Vardy gets a taste of own medicine by going in goal

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy (front) says his manager Claudio Ranieri has fostered a relaxed training atmosphere that has led to the squad's strong team spirit.
Leicester City's Jamie Vardy (front) says his manager Claudio Ranieri has fostered a relaxed training atmosphere that has led to the squad's strong team spirit.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Jamie Vardy revealed he acts as a makeshift goalkeeper in training as Leicester City's top scorer gave an insight into the camaraderie underpinning their unlikely Premier League title march.

Claudio Ranieri's side are closing in on an extraordinary triumph and require nine points from their five remaining matches to be crowned champions.

Interest in the Foxes' run to the title is peaking, with tickets to their last home game against Everton now being offered at £15,000 (S$28,900) a pair on a re-sale website, according to the BBC.

Vardy has played a major role in their success. His two goals in Sunday's 2-0 victory at Sunderland took his tally for the campaign to 21.

It is almost certain to earn him a place in Roy Hodgson's England squad for Euro 2016, but he says Ranieri's desire to rest his goalkeepers means he has few opportunities to hone his finishing in training.

"I don't really get a chance to practise my finishing that much," the 29-year-old said. "When we have shooting drills, it's quite early in the week when the gaffer is wanting us to rest our keepers. So normally when there is a bit of shooting, he tells me to go in goal.

PUTTING ON THE GLOVES

When we have shooting drills, it's quite early in the week when the gaffer is wanting us to rest our keepers. So normally when there is a bit of shooting, he tells me to go in goal.

JAMIE VARDY, Leicester striker, on getting in between the sticks during training.

"I'm happy to keep doing it if it means I'm helping the keepers remain fresh for the games."

Vardy says that friendly mickey-taking among the squad also plays a central part in helping to keep the mood positive.

German defender Robert Huth, in particular, has found himself the butt of some of the banter fostered by Ranieri, 64, whose appointment last year was met with ridicule and saw the club installed as relegation favourites by British bookmakers.

"We're the same bunch of lads as we were at the start of the season, to be honest," Vardy said. "It's a tight-knit squad and that's how we have been from day one.

"We always seem to be having a laugh. In the warm-up in training, there are sprint contests around different mannequins.

"For some reason Huthy has ended up in the top group. I don't know how, but if he gets turned round the mannequins first and puts his arm out then that's it, you're not going to get past him.

"It's another thing we're always having a laugh and a joke about. That is how we are, everyone is relaxed. The gaffer (manager) wants it to be like that.

"There's plenty of banter flying round about who gets the most assists in games, and Danny Drinkwater has killed me, but to be honest we all have a few cheeky digs at each other over it, a little laugh and joke about things."

Drinkwater is another to have won England recognition on the back of a fine season in Leicester's midfield.

"There isn't a secret to the dressing-room camaraderie, it's just that we're a bunch of lads that get along," said the 26-year-old.

"We're all willing to work hard for each other on the pitch and it shows by how well we graft out results."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Vardy gets a taste of own medicine by going in goal'. Print Edition | Subscribe