Brendan Rodgers

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Leicester City’s Rodgers: ‘Good news’ on Vardy injury

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Brendan Rodgers says there’s good news when it comes to the injury suffered by Jamie Vardy in Leicester City’s 4-1 blowout of West Ham United on Wednesday.

Vardy hurt his glute in the win, temporarily returning to the match after treatment from the trainer but ultimately subbing off before halftime.

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“It wasn’t his hamstring, so that’s good news for us,” Rodgers said, via The Leicester Mercury.

“He just felt a twinge in his glute, so we just have to wait and see on that in the next day or so. Thankfully his hamstring is okay and he just felt some pain in his glute, so we will have to assess that over the next few days.”

Vardy has a Premier League-best 17 goals, one more than Man City’s Sergio Aguero.

He was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted one of Ayoze Perez’s two goals on the day. Perez’s seven goals are second on Leicester, while James Maddison‘s six are third.

Iheanacho has six goals and three assists in 485 minutes and there’s reason to believe he can feast off Leicester’s playmaking if Vardy needs a match or two to heal.

Whether he can fill Vardy’s shoes in the long-term is a big question, especially as Leicester aims to return for the Champions League.

PL Sunday Preview: Leicester travel to Burnley; Liverpool put perfect record on the line against Man Utd

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With eight Premier League fixtures on Saturday, two more remain in Matchweek 23.

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Burnley v. Leicester City  — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Burnley are free falling and there doesn’t seem to be a safety net in sight.

The Clarets, who are two points removed from the relegation zone, head into a tough three-match window without striker Ashley Barnes. Recuperating from a hernia surgery, the 30-year-old is set to miss bouts against Leicester, Manchester United and Arsenal – to name some.

But quite possibly more alarming than that is the team’s recent form. Losing seven out of their last nine, just two points divide Burnley from the drop zone. Sean Dyche‘s team are clueless in the box, scoring one goal in four league bouts. Trouble looms over Turf Moor.

But even then, Dyche, who has made Burnley a force to be reckoned with in the past, believes his side are still a threat.

“They are a good side,” Dyche said about Leicester. “We are on a tough run of form, but I don’t think they are naive enough to think it is turn up and get the business done. We are not a million miles away.”

Can Burnley pull a Southampton and stun a top-four bound Leicester?

“We weren’t at our best [against Southampton] and we didn’t have the energy and intensity that we would have liked,” Brendan Rodgers said ahead of Sunday’s early match.

“We work twice as hard and that’s what we’ve done after every setback. We still have a lot to improve on.”

The Foxes had a rare full week to train, so one can bet that Rodgers is serious about his word.

INJURIES: Burnley —  OUT: Barnes (hernia), Gudmundsson (hamstring) | Leicester City — OUT: Ndidi (knee), Amartey (ankle), James (match fitness)

Liverpool v. Manchester United — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Manchester United are a part of the exclusive anti-Liverpool club for more than the obvious reason.

Yes, the North West Derby is one of the league’s most heated rivalries, with countless flashbacks in its 203 meetings during its over 100 years of history.

But these two, star-studded squads led by Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, respectively, also have a permeating rivalry of their own. The Reds, who have yet to taste defeat this season, have dropped points to only United.

It can be argued that Sunday’s bout may be Liverpool’s most complicated and least favorable, despite maintaining an immaculate record at home. This is the “big one” that many didn’t particularly circle on the calendar.

“It’s a very, very important football game,” Klopp said. “Very important. We have to learn how to deal with games like this in the right manner. We haven’t done bad in the past but we can still improve.

“Old Trafford [a 1-1 draw in October] was a good example, [we were] not at our best because of their quality. We have to make it more likely we’re at our best.”

Solskjaer had his tactics in place last time around; a small injection of final quality and the team would have crushed Liverpool’s aspirations of matching the Iinvincibles or Manchester City’s points record.

“The last two performances [against Liverpool] at Old Trafford we have drawn twice and been close to winning both games, so we’ve got some games to look back at and that will give us loads of belief… if we perform to our best we have a chance to win,” Solskjaer said.

Sunday presents itself as the final chance for United to pull the upset, and reaffirm why they’re a part of the exclusive club to begin with. But Liverpool are slowing becoming invincible themselves.

INJURIES: Liverpool —  OUT: Lovren (hamstring), Clyne (knee), Keïta (groin), Milner (hamstring) | Manchester United  — OUT: Tuanzebe (hamstring), McTominay (knee), Pogba (ankle)

Leicester’s Rodgers: Slow start ‘my fault,’ credits Choudhury for revival

Leicester City manager Rodgers reacts to draw
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Leicester City’s Wembley status is far from settled after the Foxes struggled to break down Aston Villa on Wednesday.

The Foxes drew Villa 1-1 at the King Power Stadium and will have to win at Villa Park on Jan. 28 to earn a place in the March 1 final.

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Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers said the performance was rough, but that the tie is “set up perfectly” for the Foxes.

“It was all a bit slow,” said Rodgers, via the BBC. “We didn’t press the game enough. The goal we conceded we have to be stronger. But we stayed calm and speeded up the game, made more runs off the ball. Second half we were very good, they made some great blocks to stop us winning the game. Credit to them, they made it very difficult.”

The Foxes had their excuses for a rough night. Portions of the match were played in a downpour, and one of the club’s ever-present forces missed out.

Wilfred Ndidi missed the match for Leicester City and will be absent for the next month. Rodgers said he made the wrong move in adjusting to life without Ndidi. He rectified that at halftime, pulling Dennis Praet for an enforcer.

Hamza Choudhury made a huge difference, it’s my fault that I didn’t start him tonight,” Rodgers said, via the BBC. “We could see that we needed him and he gave us our identity back. Wilfred Ndidi is so good for us, he’s colossal, and we were too slow and not aggressive without him or Hamza.”

Choudhury should prepare to be busy, and his 22 years should allow him to deputize for most if not all of Ndidi’s absence.

The Foxes have a soft January which includes Southampton, Burnley, and West Ham in league play and a second leg against Villa.

Influential Leicester City midfielder Ndidi out until February

Wilfred Ndidi injury
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Leicester City will have to play January without one of its most influential performers.

Wilfred Ndidi missed Wednesday’s League Cup semifinal first leg versus Aston Villa and is out the rest of the month.

The Nigerian may require surgery for “a knock” suffered in training this week.

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The 23-year-old Ndidi has gone 90 minutes in 19 of 21 Premier League matches this season, missing one and coming off the bench in another.

He’s one of two PL players with 80-plus tackles this season, recording 85. Teammate Ricardo Pereira (83) is the other. Ndidi’s 55 interceptions also lead the PL.

Brendan Rodgers didn’t go into detail and says it isn’t “overly serious” (hockey coaches would be proud of the vagueness).

From The Leicester Mercury:

“He took a knock in training yesterday,” Rodgers said. “Unfortunately, he might need to have a slight operation tomorrow [Thursday] which will put him out for a few weeks. That’s just unfortunate. … But it’s not overly serious. Hopefully into February, he will be fit and ready to go again.”

It’s a massive loss for Leicester. Fortunately, the Foxes have a soft January which includes Southampton, Burnley, and West Ham in league play and a second leg against Villa.

Rodgers ‘so proud’ of Leicester after making 9 changes, winning

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More than anything else, Leicester City simply needed a bit of a gift from the scheduling gods — to play any side other than Manchester City or Liverpool, their last two opponents — to get back to winning ways after three straight games without a victory.

[ MORE: Mourinho: Spurs keep making “same mistakes match after match” ]

Brendan Rodgers took a calculated, if not forced, risk by making nine changes to the team that was thrashed by the runaway Reds less than 48 hours prior, and it paid off in a big way: a 2-1 victory away to West Ham United on Saturday.

After the game, Demarai Gray, one of the nine players to come into the team and the one who scored the game-winning goal after having a penalty kick saved 45 minutes prior, was delighted for himself and the other members of the “fresh team” who took their chance and made the most of it — quotes from the BBC:

“We were in control for a lot of it. We let them back in it with the goal at the end of the first half but overall we controlled the game. We put out a fresh team, but it paid off.

“I was fine taking the penalty, I’m not really nervous in that situation. Those things happen, but it was important to react properly and I did and I got the goal and I was happy. It always means a lot to score and most importantly we got the three points at the end.

“Anytime you come in if you’re not playing so much you have to try and stamp your mark and get yourself in the team. We knew it was a quick turnaround and we knew we’d need a fresh XI, but it just shows the quality and depth we’ve got in the team.”

“We haven’t spoke about the title race or the top four. We just take each game as it comes and try and get three points and see where we are at the end of the season.”

Thanks to Man City’s loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday, Leicester are guaranteed to enter 2020 as the second-place side in the Premier League. They lead the two-time defending champions, who play on Sunday, by four points, though they also trail Liverpool, who also play on Sunday and have an extra game in hand, by 10 points.