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Claudio Ranieri hopes Jamie Vardy will be protected by referees

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07:  Jamie Vardy of Leicester City celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during The FA Community Shield match between Leic
Image: Jamie Vardy could be a marked man after his fine 2015-16 season

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has urged referees to protect Jamie Vardy as he feels the striker is now a marked man.

The England forward will lead the line for the Premier League champions when they start their title defence at Hull on Saturday lunchtime - live on Sky Sports 1 HD - after rejecting a move to Arsenal and signing a new Foxes deal in the summer.

Vardy scored 24 goals last season as Leicester claimed their first title in surprise fashion by 10 points after being 5,000/1 to win the league at the start.

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It sparked interest from Arsenal after they triggered his release fee clause but Vardy turned down a switch to the Emirates Stadium in June and penned a fresh contract until 2020.

Ranieri believes he will be targeted following his outstanding season, which also saw him win the Football Writers' Player of the Year award, and wants officials to watch out for Vardy.

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"I hope the referees are very attentive and if there is something wrong they give penalties or free-kicks," the Italian said.

"But he must stay calm because of course now everybody wants to stop him.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07: Manager of Leicester City, Claudio Ranieri during The FA Community Shield match between Leicester City and Manchester United a
Image: Claudio Ranieri feels Leicester also need a 'Plan B' for goals if Vardy has a poor run

"It is difficult to stop Jamie when he is in good shape or condition, but of course there are opponents and there will be tough matches.

"We also want to be ready with plan B if Jamie can't score. Last season Jamie didn't score for around two months but he made a lot of passes and Riyad (Mahrez) scored.

"It's not important for me who scores, whether it's Jamie or (Kasper) Schmeichel."

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