Claudio Ranieri believes Jamie Vardy will do what is best for Leicester and for England, even if that means restricting his freedom.
Leicester are third after six wins and one loss in their opening 11 games ahead of Saturday’s clash with Watford at the King Power Stadium, with Vardy’s goals key.
The forward has netted in eight consecutive games, nearing Ruud van Nistelrooy’s mark of scoring in 10 successive matches, but Ranieri insists Vardy will always put the team first.
England manager Roy Hodgson fielded Vardy on the left wing for England in Lithuania last month and has again named the former Fleetwood striker in his squad for this month’s friendlies with Spain and France.
Ranieri reckons the 28-year-old is happy to play wherever he is told to, although the Italian likes to give him freedom to play anywhere.
“Jamie is an intelligent player. What Roy Hodgson asks of him, he tries to do the best for the team, for the England squad. He’s not selfish,” Ranieri said.
“In my opinion he has to be free. When he’s free, he’s amazing.
“But we play with two strikers, not with one striker. I am not Roy. I respect him, his shape. For me in my team he plays free, forward.”
Ranieri has not discussed Van Nistelrooy’s goalscoring landmark with Vardy, insisting the team is what matters.
“I never speak about it,” the former Chelsea boss said.
“I never speak about a goal, a goal, a goal. Never. It’s not important now.
“At the top there is a team and after the performance of each player.
“The team helps you to play better, to score the goals.”
Vardy is full of quality and pace.
Ranieri added: “Everything he tries to do, he does at 100mph and it’s difficult.
“Also you can make mistakes but in this moment he’s in great form. Everything he does, he does well. That must continue in this way.”
Vardy’s fellow forward Riyad Mahrez has impressed too and there was speculation this week linking the Algerian with Manchester United.
Ranieri welcomed the link, but hopes Mahrez will remain and develop with the Foxes, having in August signed a new deal until 2019.
“That is good, because that means we have very good players,” Ranieri said of the speculation.
“It’s good one week it’s Vardy, one week it’s Riyad. Another week I don’t know who.
“But this is only speculation. Riyad is happy with us, he renewed his contract.
“We want to grow up and then he will stay with us, as well as Jamie Vardy.”
Asked if the speculation could impact on his player, Ranieri said: “It’s normal a lot of big clubs are asking for you. If (it affects you), you aren’t a big talent.”
Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores succeeded Ranieri as Valencia boss 10 years ago.
Asked about revenge, a smiling and joking Ranieri said: “Yes, big revenge. I want to kill him.”
He added: “He’s a nice man. It’s football. Why revenge? Why with Quique? I was sacked.”