Wednesday 28 September 2016

Leicester's Danny Drinkwater takes the praise after role in Stoke win

Published 24/01/2016 | 13:11

Danny Drinkwater has been superb this season for Leicester in midfield
Danny Drinkwater has been superb this season for Leicester in midfield

Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater earned plaudits for another superb all-round performance in his side's victory against Stoke.

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Drinkwater's display on Saturday, in which he scored one goal - his first in the Barclays Premier League - and made another for Jamie Vardy as the Foxes moved three points clear at the top of the table, was nothing new though.

The former Manchester United trainee has been something of an unsung hero in Leicester's surprise challenge for the title this season, as Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have regularly have grabbed the headlines.

After the 3-0 win, manager Claudio Ranieri fielded questions about a possible call-up to the England squad for Drinkwater while team-mate Christian Fuchs described him "the English Pirlo".

"I always tell him to shoot at goal because if you don't shoot you can't score a goal," said Ranieri.

"It is important for him and his confidence because he is a hard worker and a good passer, a very good midfielder.

"I don't know (about England). Of course (England manager) Roy (Hodgson) is watching us and if he needs some of my English players then I am very pleased to give them to him."

Fuchs tweeted a photograph of himself and Drinkwater under which he made the comparison with Pirlo - the former AC Milan and Juventus playmaker renowned for his vision and passing.

Substitute Leonardo Ulloa, a 62nd-minute replacement for the injured Shinji Okazaki, stabbed in Leicester's third goal from close range with three minutes remaining.

Ranieri revealed that Okazaki's injury was only minor, saying: " Shinji I think is okay, nothing serious. Just a problem behind the knee."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes, on the other hand, is far more concerned about the injury that forced Ryan Shawcross off after half an hour at the King Power Stadium.

"His back unfortunately locked up, and his hip," said Hughes.

"We're hopeful that it's nothing too serious and no recurrence of his problem that he had before. Hopefully it's just a muscular issue and we can loosen him off and he'll be okay, but it's a bit early to say at the moment."

Shawcross may miss the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Liverpool on Tuesday night but Hughes has his fingers crossed that Marko Arnautovic will be back from injury at Anfield as Stoke look to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit and make it to Wembley.

"Hopefully he will be fit, yes. We'll check him again," said Hughes, who was without the midfielder on Saturday.

"He hadn't trained all week and had only taken part in parts of the sessions so it was too much of a risk. Hopefully he'll benefit from the rest he had and be back firing on Tuesday.

"Marko we missed (on Saturday) because of his pace and power and ability to be able to retain the ball at the top end. We missed his influence but he's had an issue with his hamstring.

"It was a close call but in fairness I don't think it would have made a difference to the result because we needed to offer a lot more."

Press Association

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