Football

Goal-shy Vardy still as handy, says Ranieri

Ranieri unfazed by star striker's goal drought

GROUP G

COPENHAGEN v LEICESTER
(Tomorrow, 3.45am, Singtel TV Ch 111)

Leicester City's star striker Jamie Vardy has not scored in 10 appearances for the EPL champions, but Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri is not worried.

The reason? Vardy has now turned creator.

"It is not important (that he is not scoring)," said Ranieri, who rested Vardy for the first time in his Leicester reign in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace two weeks ago.

"Last season, he scored 11 goals in a row. Sooner or later he will start to score. It is important if you think he made two great crosses, one against Copenhagen and one again at the weekend (in the 1-1 draw with Spurs)."

Ranieri was referring to Vardy's assist for Ahmed Musa to equalise against Tottenham last Saturday, and the cross which was knocked down by Islam Slimani for Riyad Mahrez's winner against Copenhagen two weeks ago.

With the Foxes needing to balance between their dismal domestic campaign and their Champions League commitment, Ranieri will be mulling over whether he needs to keep Vardy wrapped up in cotton wool for their next EPL match - against West Brom on Monday morning (Singapore time).

The narrow win over Copenhagen made Leicester one of only five group-stage debutants to win their first three games and, should they make it four from four and Porto fail to beat Club Brugge, they will secure top spot in Group G.

That would, in likelihood, spare them a clash with one of the big guns in the first knockout round.

Yet Leicester's European form has been in stark contrast to their domestic performances as they struggled to adjust to wearing the English champions' crown.

RETURN TO FORM?

The 1-1 draw at Tottenham last Saturday, their first away point in this season's Premier League, following on from the 3-1 home win over Crystal Palace, has hinted at a return to the kind of resilience that took them to a historic title last season.

Leicester are one of only four teams - Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Sevilla being the others - yet to concede a goal in this season's Champions League, although Copenhagen had their chances at the King Power Stadium, where they were beaten 1-0.

That defeat was the only loss in 24 matches in all competitions for the Danish champions.

All the more reason why coach Stale Solbakken is angry that his side had to play a Danish league game on Monday morning (Singapore time) - a 3-1 victory over FC Midtjylland.

"It's suicide for Danish football that we have to play a game like this on Sunday evening," Norwegian Solbakken, whose side are level with Porto on four points, said.

"Our opponents in Wednesday's Champions League group game could start preparing for the game on Saturday."

Leicester will be without midfielder Nampalys Mendy (ankle), while Slimani (groin) and Musa (knock) will be assessed ahead of the game in the Parken Stadium.

Copenhagen will be hoping Federico Santander can continue a run of form that has helped him to score six goals in his last seven matches in all competitions, including two against Midtjylland. - Reuters.

Champions LeagueLeicester City