Brendan Rodgers has revealed he left three Leicester City stars out of their 3-2 defeat at West Ham due to a COVID-19 protocol breach, with James Maddison, Ayoze Perez and Hamza Choudhury all missing.
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The trio were all left out of the pivotal clash at West Ham for breaking COVID-19 rules, as it has been reported they attended a party.
Speaking after the narrow defeat at West Ham — Leicester trailed 3-0 by fought back to make it 3-2 as they almost grabbed a point — Rodgers explained his decision and said he was ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the behavior.
Why Maddison, Perez and Choudhury left out
“It was a decision I made, an internal situation last weekend, It is not the standard we expect. They are all good guys, good lads, but we have a standard on and off the pitch that we have to adhere to,” Rodgers said, via BBC Sport. “The boys will rejoin the group after this game. It’s internal, it’s something we have dealt with. The boys, it’s disappointing behaviour, it’s a mistake. It’s not what we are about. We have a set of values for the team, for this football club The players in the main have been great but they will rejoin the group next week.”
Asked by Sky Sports if there was a temptation to let the disciplinary issue slide due to it being such a big game, here is what Rodgers said.
“You can do if you’re soft. For me it is always about discipline. In order to be a winner or compete at this top end of the table you’ve got to act like a winner,” Rodgers said. “That winning mentality is a certain level of behavior and mindset that allows you to prepare everyday for every game. I had no hesitation. You can fine players now but it is a drop in the ocean. The football game was the consequence today. Unfortunately we didn’t have them but we will move on and finish the season strongly.”
What next for Maddison, Leicester City?
James Maddison is a huge talent, but he has been left out of previous England squads due to concerns over his behavior off the pitch and this will not help his chances of making the England squad for this summer.
The three players will be available for the FA Cup semifinal against Southampton next weekend after this punishment, but this was about the here and now.
Leicester really needed Maddison and Perez in particular against West Ham, and their lack of options off the bench definitely impacted the team as they lost ground in the top four push with seven games to go.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have now lost back-to-back PL games for the first time since November and aside from this protocol break, the pressure seems to be getting to them a little.
Jamie Vardy is in a drought, Caglar Soyuncu is out and this breach is the last thing Rodgers will have wanted.
Leicester do have a very winnable run of games coming up, but their lead above the other top four contenders basically vanished this weekend. With an FA Cup semifinal coming up next weekend, which they are expected to win, can the Foxes regain their cool and finish the season strong?
In-form Kelechi Iheanacho will lead their charge, but this is starting to feel like last season when they just missed out on the top four.
Their last three games this season are huge as they face Chelsea, Man United and Tottenham and they have to get plenty more points on the board before that finale.