Wednesday 21 February 2018

Claude Puel won’t discuss Riyad Mahrez situation after Leicester held by Swansea

The influential Algerian missed the game in the wake of a move to Manchester City collapsing.

Leicester City v Swansea City – Premier League – King Power Stadium
Leicester City v Swansea City – Premier League – King Power Stadium

By Sean Taylor, Press Association Sport

Claude Puel insisted Riyad Mahrez was not at the forefront of his thoughts following a frustrating afternoon for the Leicester boss.

Leicester were held to a 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium, where it was hard to escape the notion that perhaps they are not the same team without the midfielder.

The hosts led through Jamie Vardy’s goal but after Federico Fernandez headed Swansea level early in the second half, Leicester lacked the guile and craft so often provided by Mahrez to respond and had to settle for a point.

Mahrez, who also missed the defeat at Everton, has not been seen by the club since his proposed move to Manchester City collapsed on Wednesday.

Asked when he expected the former Player of the year to return to the Leicester squad, Puel said: “I expect nothing. The most important thing is not to think about one player but to think about my team and my squad.

“Today, just after the game, Riyad is not my preoccupation. My preoccupation is about my available players and to keep them in a positive attitude and to continue this good work.

“My only feelings are about my available players and as for Riyad we will see later.”

It looked like Mahrez might not be missed as Leicester played some lovely football during the first half and took the lead after 17 minutes through Vardy.

Fousseni Diabate and Kelechi Iheanacho had chances to extend the lead before half time before Swansea’s first meaningful effort on goal ended up in the back of Leicester’s net as the unmarked Fernandez headed in Ki Sung-yueng’s corner from seven yards out after 53 minutes.

Puel said: “It is big frustration this afternoon, Swansea defended very well. We played very well, especially in the first half, against this team that has just had good results against Liverpool and Arsenal. They had just one chance in the game.

“We had quality and good combinations between the players but we missed the clinical edge. We needed another goal in the first half because this was a period of good quality and we had them under pressure. To concede the goal is harsh for the team.”

The point was enough to see Swansea climb out of the relegation places, to the satisfaction of manager Carlos Carvalhal.

“As I have been saying since I arrived, I will not look too much at the position but when you do look and you see you are not under the line of the water, then it is pleasing,” he said.

“We are progressing and it was amazing again how we reacted. We were losing like at Watford and against Arsenal and we react and come back again and win a point. It means the mental part of the team is very strong. With organisation and calm we achieved an important point.”

Press Association

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