Leicester City

Leicester City

Premier League • England

Rodgers explains how Leicester will react to heightened focus on star man

Samuel Bannister
Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho celebrate

Brendan Rodgers knows Spartak Moscow will be keeping a closer eye on Patson Daka when they lock horns with Leicester City again in the Europa League on Thursday.

Daka scored all four of Leicester’s goals in a 4-3 win in the reverse group fixture in Russia. Two weeks on, the two sides will be meeting again on matchday four. Neither are in the qualification places in their group at present, so it will be a big game.

It would certainly be beneficial for Leicester if Daka can replicate his impact from the previous match – even if asking for a four-goal haul again would be unreasonable. In fact, he hasn’t found the net in their three games since.

Rodgers thinks he will be an asset to Leicester whether he scores or not – but knows Spartak will be trying to deal with him better.

“When you have a special individual performance like that, it makes the opposition more aware,” he said.

“It’s about the team. Patson’s goals came from some great bits of play, the midfield playing some great balls, Kels [Kelechi Iheanacho] making a run.

“It’s everything in the team to create the opportunities, but then it’s about him finishing and that’s what he did magnificently.

“If he starts, we’d love him to get another four goals. If he contributes like he did without the ball, I’ll be happy.”

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Rodgers is not underestimating the importance of the clash with the side currently bottom of the group.

He believes Spartak will be a difficult opponent again and the players will need no motivation to compete.

“It’s a very important game for us,” he explained. “We have put ourselves in a position with two home games.

“We know it will be a difficult game. We will have to work very hard. If we can minimise our mistakes and play our game, we know we can do well. We want to put ourselves in a better position in the table.

“The importance of the result is clear. The process is what we’ve been convincing the players of over the past few days.

“Without the ball it’s about minimising the mistakes. With the ball it’s about playing with freedom. Looking at the table, you can see the importance for everyone.”

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At the halfway stage of Group C, Legia Warsaw lead the way on six points, Napoli and Leicester have four, and Spartak three.

The group winners will progress automatically to the round of 16, whereas the runners up will have to feature in a play-off for the right to get there.

Rodgers insists the target is to win the group, but any kind of qualification will suit.

“We’d love to win the group. That’s what we set out in the group,” he said. “And if you do that, you won’t have to play until March.

“But the objective is qualification and if we have to play the two games in February so be it.”

Rodgers provides Leicester availability updates


Leicester do not have a full squad available for the match, due to a variety of reasons. He is hoping to recover some of his players in the coming days, though.

For example, full-back Ricardo is close to a return.

“If he’s not ready for tomorrow, he should be ready for the weekend,” he confirmed. “We have a few players who have the sickness bug that has been going around. We’ll have to assess that, but if they can’t make it, they should be ok for the weekend.”

Identifying which players were affected, Rodgers said: “Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, and James Justin, who wouldn’t have been available. They’ve been down for a few days.

“They’re coming around now. If they are back for tomorrow, they should be able to play at the weekend.”

One man who is available for Leicester is Ayoze Perez, but Marc Albrighton will have to wait for his return to action.

“Ayo is in the squad. He’s fine after his bug,” Rodgers confirmed. “Marc is still a few weeks away.”

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