Okazaki can hold the fort until Vardy's return, says Neil Humphreys
Unsung Samurai can cover for suspended Vardy
Referee Jon Moss ruined Leicester City's day.
If he accuses Jamie Vardy of serious dissent, he could ruin the Foxes' season.
One game without Vardy is manageable. A two-game ban elevates the uncertainty. Three games will kill the title dream.
Vardy's blatant dive in the 2-2 draw with West Ham on Sunday was a foolish lapse in judgment, but his reaction to the red card was idiotic.
Jabbing a finger in the referee's face and using the kind of fruity language usually heard on construction sites was the bigger crime and a potentially more damaging one for his fable-making mates.
The Football Association yesterday charged Vardy with improper conduct and, if his ban is extended, Leicester will have to rely on an Asian to survive.
Shinji Okazaki can hold the fort until Vardy's return.
Their next opponents, Swansea City, should offer less resistance than West Ham and the Foxes have their unsung attacking hero to call upon.
Leicester's fabulous opening goal against the Hammers was a celebration not only of their outstanding work ethic, but also their sense of sacrifice.
One of the most pivotal roles was performed by a forward who was rarely in the picture, quite literally. He drifted off screen as Leicester sprang their offensive.
Riyad Mahrez, N'Golo Kante and Vardy linked spectacularly to close in on goal, but Okazaki cleared their path.
An underrated, thoughtful forward, the Japanese support act divides defences so Vardy can conquer.
He played the sacrificial lamb against West Ham, pulling off the decoy run and dragging Mark Noble away from Kante.
Kante made the goal, but Okazaki made the space. Leicester's invigorating counter-attacking depends on both.
The loss of Vardy was the standout moment, but Okazaki's substitution was no less damaging.
Claudio Ranieri had to sacrifice someone after his striker's brain fade, but West Ham were given further incentive to attack with Leicester's loss of mobility up front.
Okazaki's tireless industry surpasses that of Leonardo Ulloa, his replacement against West Ham.
When Leicester host Swansea, the Japanese forward's contribution suddenly becomes pivotal.
His willingness to track back, defend set-pieces, harass both midfield enforcers and shackle fullbacks is a key component of his side's success.
Okazaki dashes around as if his life depends on it. He now needs the game of his life against Swansea.
Ulloa stole the spotlight with his dramatic, injury-time penalty, but he had rarely troubled West Ham's defence and his conventional skill-set doesn't suit Leicester's lightning raids in the box.
Against Swansea, Okazaki must shoulder Vardy's responsibilities, chasing down those pinged passes from midfield.
The process may be less fluid and not quite as pleasing on the eye - Okazaki is an intelligent workhorse compared to Vardy's instinctive sprinter - but it's the best option available to Ranieri and should take care of Swansea.
An increased ban for Vardy, on the other hand, risks radically altering the complexion of the title race.
The subsequent trip to Old Trafford was rightly being touted as the theatre of Vardy's dreams, the perfect venue for his Hollywood ending.
As Tottenham recently demonstrated, United's back four are not built for speed. With Vardy on his shoulder, there was always a chance of Daley Blind living up to his name and missing the striker's burst of acceleration.
Ulloa and Okazaki, despite the latter's selfless dedication to the cause, do not provide the same explosive threat.
Leicester are content to concede possession, secure in the knowledge that Vardy usually requires just a chance or two to break the deadlock.
Both Danny Drinkwater and Marc Albrighton know where their scampering greyhound will end up, an advantage established over many months, thanks to Vardy not missing a league game since March last year.
Swansea should be okay, but United - and then possibly Everton if the ban is stretched to three games - are a different kettle of fullbacks all together.
The Foxes can soak up pressure, but not that much pressure.
Without Vardy and Okazaki, Leicester looked like they were kicking high balls towards an even higher wall against West Ham. Every one bounced straight back.
Kante can hold the line when faced with a flock of simpering Swans, but he needs additional support if Vardy gets slapped with an extended ban.
He needs the man known as the "Samurai Footballer".
Leicester paid the price for Vardy losing his head.
Their recovery now depends on Okazaki keeping his.
"Okazaki excels in the small, subtle details, and his style is perfect for Leicester’s game plan. If the Foxes are a relatively limited attacking side, depending upon counterattacking and set-pieces for goals, it helps to have a forward that creates opportunities in both respects."
— The Guardian
"Jamie never dives, he goes very fast and at his speed if you touch a little... I want to stay calm. I’m very sad, not because of the sending-off but because he can’t play the next match."
— Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri defending Jamie Vardy