Ranieri lauds fringe players after cup progress

Rob Conlon
Claudio Ranieri: Looking to end title wait

Claudio Ranieri: Looking to end title wait

Claudio Ranieri believes Leicester City’s fringe players justified his decision to rotate the team as they beat West Ham 2-1.

Ranieri, nicknamed the Tinkerman, made 10 changes to the side which drew 2-2 at Stoke City, with only Gokhan Inler retaining his place in the starting line-up.

West Ham forward Mauro Zarate cancelled out young striker Joe Dodoo’s opener for the hosts, before Andy King’s extra-time header secured the victory, meaning the Foxes remain unbeaten this season.

“I am very pleased, we were fantastic. We changed 10 players but they played at the same level. They’re a great group and they work very hard. I’m very happy.

“Some of the players have not been used in the Premier League but I believe in them. I told them that I want to go through the rounds and I pick you to play because I believe you can win.

“Everybody was fantastic tonight. King scored the goal but they were all fantastic.

“It is important to remain unbeaten this season to stay confident everybody and for everybody to show their quality.”

The League Cup third-round tie looked destined to head to penalties after Hammers goalkeeper Adrian, who was described by Ranieri as “man of the match”, made a series of important saves.

Beaten manager Slavan Bilic also praised the Spaniard, who is consistently one of the East London club’s best performers.

“He made some good saves, especially in extra-time,” said the Croatian.

“I think he did brilliantly in the two one-on-one situations. He kept us in the game in extra time.

“They started better than us but then after that for the normal 90 minutes we were a bit better than them. But in extra time we started to get tired and when you concede a goal with four minutes left you are very disappointed.

“We are very disappointed because we approached this competition with the aim to win.”