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Sunday 21 September 2014

Pearson has faith in Foxes

Published 15/08/2014 | 16:32

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Nigel Pearson is confident his side can hold their own in the Premier League

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson believes his team is capable of competing in the Barclays Premier League.

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As is usually the case with newly-promoted sides, last season's Championship title winners are among those clubs tipped to struggle when the 2014/15 campaign gets under way this weekend.

While Pearson accepts that life will be significantly more challenging in the top flight, he believes his players can adapt.

The Foxes will contest a Premier League fixture for the first time in a decade on Saturday against Everton at the King Power Stadium.

Ahead of the game, Pearson said: "We were the best team in the league last season, obviously that won't be the case this time round.

"We are not going to dominate games like we did last season - that goes without saying - but there is an air of confidence among the players that they believe they have the ability to perform, and I fully agree.

"I believe we have a good squad which is capable of making the transition.

"We have a good balance in the squad in terms of seniority of players and some exciting young players who I think, providing they are able to adapt at a sensible rate, will do very well in the Premier League.

"I do believe we have players who are very capable of doing very well.

"A lot is always made of the teams who come up and how they will fare. I have been asked if staying up is just enough, and that has to be the bottom line.

"But I think it's dangerous to set your targets too low. From a business point of view - and purely on a business level - survival would be an achievement. But, of course, I can't preach that as that would be under-selling what we have the potential to do.

"The players have a belief and the staff have a belief in the players that they are capable.

"A top-10 finish would be huge, but we have to make sure our first goal is to establish ourselves in the Premier League."

Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton are injury doubts.

Striker Vardy, who scored 16 goals last season to help the Foxes clinch the Championship title, has a thigh strain while midfielder Albrighton, a summer arrival from Aston Villa, is nursing a groin problem.

Anthony Knockaert has had an ankle injury recently but the French winger is expected to be fit, while Matt Upson's ankle injury will rule him out.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez begins his second season with a long-term plan not only to win trophies but also to lay foundations for a successful future.

One of the Spaniard's key words during the summer was "stability" and that has been achieved by tying down pivotal figures to lengthy deals.

Martinez himself agreed a new five-year contract in June - an example followed by defenders Seamus Coleman, after arguably his best season for the Toffees, and John Stones, while England midfielder Ross Barkley signed for four more years.

Last season's significant loan stars Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry signed permanently for five and three years respectively and, back in January, England left-back Leighton Baines ended speculation about his future with a four-year deal.

That work behind the scenes has guaranteed Martinez a core group of quality players he can expect to rely on for the future.

It gives him a solid platform on which to build on an impressive maiden season at Goodison Park which saw them finish fifth, having been in the running for the Champions League until late in the campaign.

But he is also planning for the longer term with improvements to the club's academy to help more promising youngsters break through.

"You need to manage the club as if you are going to be here for the next 100 years and you need to make decisions in the younger age groups where you develop them even if you are not going to see them - although the club will eventually get the benefit," Martinez told Press Association Sport.

"Every manager should work in that manner. You are not looking at the short-term doing everything and anything to win a trophy and then move on.

"I have never got satisfaction from that, I get satisfaction from trying to build clubs and philosophies that last.

"Whatever happens with the manager, for good or bad reasons, you want to have the long-term continuity and vision that is shared by everyone."

Press Association

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