Fatigued foxes united in spirit

Leicester City players wearing T-shirts depicting their late chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha during the warm-up before the match against Cardiff City last Saturday. A special "Tribute to Khun Vichai" video will be shown on the big screens inside th
Leicester City players wearing T-shirts depicting their late chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha during the warm-up before the match against Cardiff City last Saturday. A special "Tribute to Khun Vichai" video will be shown on the big screens inside the King Power Stadium when the Foxes face Burnley today.PHOTO: REUTERS

Puel says team can deliver 'right response' in first home clash since owner Vichai's death

LONDON • Leicester manager Claude Puel has admitted that while it had been tough to prepare for their first home game since the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a helicopter crash on Oct 27, his players would "compensate with their spirit".

Following Leicester's 1-0 victory against Cardiff in the Premier League last weekend, Puel flew to Bangkok with some of his first-team players to attend a mourning rite for Vichai, disrupting their preparations for today's league match against Burnley.

But the Frenchman claimed that the 9,656km trip from London to Bangkok had been a cathartic one for his players and that it was "very important to support Vichai's family" in their time of need.

"It was a long journey, but it was a chance for us to honour our chairman," he said at his pre-match press conference. "We tried to work a little on Wednesday - it was a light training session after the journey. It's not easy to prepare for this game, the emotion, no consistency in training sessions.

"But the togetherness between ourselves is a good feeling. It gives us good energy, fantastic strength.

"In the last game (Cardiff), we found the right balance between emotion and the balance in our game. We have to do the same again and give the right response to honour our chairman."

Although a wave of raw emotion is expected to wash over the King Power Stadium today, Puel praised his squad for their stoic reaction following the tragedy.

"The players have shown great maturity, it is like a family," he said. "We will manage the moment step by step, but I feel in my players focus and soul. They have learnt a lot about themselves in all this and I am proud of them."

Clarets manager Sean Dyche also felt it had been hard to gee up his team for their visit to the Foxes given the sombre occasion.

"It's an odd thing. I don't think you can get them ready for it other than the professional side, which everyone will respect," he said. "It's kind of touched everyone. The connection the owner and his family have with the club and the way they've helped develop the club... A real shocking thing to happen."

Like Puel's men, Burnley's Chris Wood feels their pain, having played for Leicester from 2013-15.

"Vichai was a great, respected person both at the club and in Leicester in general. There's going to be a lot of emotion around the game, so we're going to have to deal with that, pay our respects, but then, we have to be ready," he said.

Many tributes to the four crash victims have been planned today including a special "Tribute to Khun Vichai" video to be shown on the big screens inside the ground.

Thousands of fans will march from the city centre to the stadium and a two-minute silence will be observed before the kick-off, one for Vichai and one for Remembrance Day.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LEICESTER V BURNLEY

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2018, with the headline 'Fatigued foxes united in spirit'. Print Edition | Subscribe