Leicester v Bournemouth preview: 'Wilfred Ndidi our most consistent player', says Claude Puel
Last Updated: 03/03/18 7:29am
Leicester manager Claude Puel has hailed the performances of midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, claiming he has been the club's best player this season.
The Foxes host Bournemouth on Saturday at the King Power Stadium looking to move up to seventh in the table, and Ndidi will be available for the visit of the Cherries.
Puel sees the 21-year-old as a key component of his side with the player making more tackles than anyone else in the Premier League this season.
"Since the beginning of the season, Wilfred is the most consistent player because he plays well, he recovers a lot of ball," said Puel.
"Perhaps in his last game (against Stoke), like his team-mates, he was not fantastic. But since the beginning of the season, he's improved a lot, he continues to work with good spirit in the training sessions, always correct.
"He is a valuable player for us because we didn't have a lot of players with the same attributes. He can recover a lot of balls, he is strong in the duels and now, when he plays simple with quality, he can give a good start in our play."
Eddie Howe hopes Bournemouth will not need to produce another late show when they take on Leicester after the Cherries fought back from 2-0 down at half-time to earn a point from a home draw with Newcastle last weekend.
Howe praised the mentality of his team for being able to find a response in the final 10 minutes, but does not want them to be facing the same issues against the Foxes.
"We were disappointed with how we played for large parts of the game, but very pleased with how we ended the match," Howe told the club's official website.
"We were very pleased with the fighting spirit, the character of the players to find enough to go again and get something from the match - it was vital we didn't lose.
"But the start of the game was a frustration for us and coming into this match we know we have to do better."
Leicester hope to have Shinji Okazaki back in contention for the visit of Bournemouth.
The Japan international striker will be assessed ahead of Saturday's game, having missed the last three matches with a knee problem.
Okazaki resumed training this week and is the only injury concern for manager Puel, whose side are without a win in four Premier League outings.
Bournemouth manager Howe has reported no fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday's Premier League match at Leicester.
Winger Jordon Ibe, forward Lys Mousset, defender Brad Smith, midfielders Harry Arter and Marc Pugh all featured in a Premier League Cup tie this week to build up match fitness.
Forward Jermain Defoe should be involved again after coming off the bench during last weekend's 2-2 draw with Newcastle on his return from an ankle injury, but defender Tyrone Mings continues his rehabilitation from a back problem.
Leicester have never beaten Bournemouth in the Premier League, though four of their five meetings have ended level (L1). The Foxes' last win against them came in the Championship in February 2014.
Indeed, Bournemouth have faced no other side more often without defeat in the Premier League (Swansea also 5), while Leicester have only faced Bolton (six games) more often without victory.
The five Premier League games between these sides have produced just five goals, with Jamie Vardy scoring both of Leicester's.
Leicester have lost just one of their last eight Premier League home games (W4 D3).
Jermain Defoe could make his first start since December in this match - he's scored four goals in his last seven Premier League games against Leicester.
Bournemouth got out of jail a bit last weekend. If Jonjo Shelvey had scored for Newcastle it would have been game over for Eddie Howe's side. As it happened, they recovered and came back from 2-0 down.
However, I think Bournemouth are poor defensively and against a decent team like Leicester, who have lost just one of their last eight league matches at the King Power Stadium, they'll struggle.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (8/1 with Sky Bet)