Leicester City must show title fight, says Claudio Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri has challenged Leicester to show the fight which won them the Premier League last season

Claudio Ranieri has demanded his Leicester City players show the same "fight" that won them the Premier League last season.

Ranieri made 10 changes to his side for the 5-0 defeat to Porto on Wednesday, having already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League and with Manchester City the visitors to the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

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Hovering just two points above the relegation zone in the Premier League, the Leicester boss would not be drawn on the recent form of key players who steered the Foxes to the title last season, but demanded his team not give up their league crown without a fight.

Ranieri said: "I don't want to talk about the key players, I speak about the team, OK? And they know, the players, they know very well for me the result in something beside, not the focus. I want them to play well, to play for the team, to fight, to be strong, competitive, that it what I want. No more.

"But if you lost this, how can you win? I think now not (even) the best players can win without... fight. That is my idea about football, because last season, we won because some teams didn't fight as well as us. And then we must come back, not to win the title, but to defend the title, to not be in the relegation zone. That is what we want to do."

Will Jamie Vardy be another one season wonder?
Image: Jamie Vardy is expected to return for the visit of Manchester City this weekend

Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Andy King are all expected to return against City after being left at home for the loss in Portugal, while Robert Huth should start after being rested in midweek due to a minor back injury.

Skipper Wes Morgan is likely to be the only player retained from the Estadio do Dragao as Danny Drinkwater serves the final game of his domestic three-match ban. 

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Leicester have not won in the top flight since October 22 when they beat Crystal Palace 3-1, but Ranieri pointed to previous Premier League champions Chelsea when questioned on the Foxes' downturn in form. 

Ranieri said: "Of course, I was waiting for a period like this. If you think what happened last season at Chelsea and they are a little better than us, they were down - why can't it happen to Leicester?

"Now it's important to react, together, and to play for the team." 

Kasper Schmeicel (right) was part of Claudio Ranieri's Premier League winning side last season
Image: Kasper Schmeicel (right) was part of Ranieri's Premier League winning side last season

Ranieri has not ruled out Kasper Schmeichel returning for Leicester City against Manchester City this weekend.

Schmeichel has been out for over a month with a fractured hand but was pictured in training on Thursday ahead of Leicester's visit of Pep Guardiola's City this weekend. 

Deputies Ron-Robert Zieler and Ben Hamer have conceded 14 goals between them in the six games since Schmeichel sustained the injury, and Ranieri wants to speak to Schmeichel before confirming his line-up to face City.

"He is getting better and maybe he is ready for the Bournemouth match," said Ranieri. "I think Saturday may be too soon but let me speak with him tomorrow morning. For me the possibility is no, but Kasper is a fighter.

"He didn't feel anything (when he first suffered the injury) and the surgeon is happy and everything is OK." 

Highlights of Leicester City's 2-1 defeat to Sunderland last time out in the Premier League

Manchester City's top goalscorer Sergio Aguero will not be available for Guardiola this weekend after being handed a four-match ban for his sending off against Chelsea, but Ranieri admits their opposition have a number of alternatives to call upon. 

"There are so many champions,Sergio Aguero, there is Kevin De Bruyne, there is David Silva, there is Kelechi Iheanacho, there are so many," said Ranieri. "It is a big team, fantastic players, but I want to see (them) against us, when we are strong."

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