Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri wants protection for striker Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy scored Leicester's equaliser in the Community Shield
Jamie Vardy scored Leicester's equaliser in the Community Shield

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has urged referees to protect Jamie Vardy as he is now a marked man.

The England forward will lead the line for the defending Premier League champions when they start at Hull on Saturday after rejecting a move to Arsenal and signing a new Foxes deal in the summer.

Vardy scored 24 goals last season as Leicester won a shock title by 10 points after being 5,000-1 to win the league at the start.

It sparked interest from Arsenal after they triggered his release fee clause but Vardy turned down a switch to the Emirates Stadium in June and penned a fresh contract until 2020.

Ranieri believes he will be targeted following his outstanding season, which also saw him win the Football Writers' Player of the Year award, and wants officials to watch out for Vardy.

"I hope the referees are very attentive and if there is something wrong they give penalties or free-kicks," he said.

"But he must stay calm because of course now everybody wants to stop him.

"It is difficult to stop Jamie when he is in good shape or condition, but of course there are opponents and there will be tough matches.

"We also want to be ready with plan B if Jamie can't score. Last season Jamie didn't score for around two months but he made a lot of passes and Riyad (Mahrez) scored.

"It's not important for me who scores, whether it's Jamie or (Kasper) Schmeichel."

Record signing Ahmed Musa could be partnered with Vardy after joining from CSKA Moscow for £16million but Ranieri insisted the Nigeria international was not bought to replace Vardy.

"It's not to challenge him. It's important to have another player who can play in a similar way to Jamie," he said. "Also Musa can play in a wide position, behind Jamie or alongside Jamie.

"It's important to have a good choice for me so I can choose the first XI line-up and also during the match I can read the match and maybe say 'I need this kind of player or another'.

"My players must be ready to do what I expect."

Robert Huth is suspended as he completes his ban following an altercation with Marouane Fellaini last season meaning Luis Hernandez could be given a debut in his place.

Ron-Robert Zieler and Papy Mendy will be in the squad along with fellow new signing Bartosz Kapustka.

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport