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Thursday 22 February 2018

Drinkwater confident Leicester's title-winning heroes can stave off relegation

Danny Drinkwater believes Leicester will save themselves from the drop
Danny Drinkwater believes Leicester will save themselves from the drop

Danny Drinkwater is confident the same core of players who inspired Leicester's Premier League title triumph last season can turn around the Foxes' miserable form and save them from relegation this term.

Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Swansea condemned Leicester to a fifth consecutive league loss and left Claudio Ranieri's side just one point and one place above the drop zone, and still without a top-flight goal in 2017.

Last season's fairytale is now a fast fading memory and many of the players who starred in their title-winning success have come under fire for their underwhelming performances this campaign.

However, Drinkwater believes those same players will make things right as Leicester seek to avoid becoming the first defending champions to be relegated since Manchester City in 1938.

"It's another defeat that we're not happy with, so we've just got to keep pulling in the same direction and hope it'll turn," the England international told LCFC TV.

"We're giving ourselves a harder challenge by going two goals down. We went in at half-time and we knew we could make something happen. We didn't, but if there's a group of players that can turn things around, it's us.

"We need to force our luck rather than wait for it. We've waited too long for it now, so we need to push ourselves and make sure we do all we can to get the three points next time around.

"There's no way that it's over and we all know that in there (the dressing room). Come the end of the season, we'll turn it around I'm sure."

One shining light this season for Leicester - who managed to keep most of their title-winning squad intact last summer with N'Golo Kante's departure to Chelsea the most notable loss - has been their Champions League exploits.

They finished top of Group G in their maiden campaign after winning four of six their games and they will next face Sevilla in the last 16.

The first leg of that tie takes place on February 22 in Spain, but first Leicester's attention will turn to Saturday's FA Cup fifth-round trip to Millwall.

With Leicester still fighting on three fronts - albeit for different reasons - Drinkwater is hoping his side can finally start rewarding the Foxes' fans for their support.

He said: "This is when we rely on ourselves and the fans. They're doing their part to keep us on our toes and keep us going on the pitch.

"We need to do our part as a group of lads to make sure everyone is doing their part to improve. We're in every day making sure we're doing what we can do."

Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola also thinks Ranieri will keep Leicester in the top flight.

The Italian, who played for countryman Ranieri at Napoli and Chelsea, believes his former manager deserves time at the King Power Stadium following his stunning title win last season.

Zola told Press Association Sport: "I know he is a very capable coach, a very good person and he will produce and give the best. I'm sure they will (stay up). The players will have to step up a bit but you have to be confident in a coach who did what he did last year.

"I don't think Leicester are doing anything differently from what they did last year but this time it seems to me the chemicals are different. You have to keep working and it will come back. I have been through situations like this in my career. You keep doing the right things and it will come back to you.

"That's the magic of football. It appears and disappears very quickly.

"I haven't spoken to him - sometimes it's better to keep quiet - but I wish him all the best."

Zola, who has won just once in 12 games since replacing Gary Rowett at Birmingham, understands the growing pressure on Ranieri but said the 65-year-old would not be fazed by Leicester's struggles.

He added: "It's our life, we know as a coach, our world is very unstable so you have to be used to that. You have to be prepared and be strong in these moments and don't lose your focus and concentration.

"This is our world, this is my world and I have to live in it. It doesn't take away any enthusiasm, any passion for the game and it doesn't change my idea how football should be done."

Press Association

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