Wednesday 17 July 2019

Leicester is my only concern, not Southampton, says Claude Puel

The Frenchman was sacked by Saints despite leading them to eighth in the Premier League and the League Cup final.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Leicester City – Premier League – AMEX Stadium
Brighton and Hove Albion v Leicester City – Premier League – AMEX Stadium

By Sean Taylor, Press Association Sport

Leicester boss Claude Puel is unconcerned by the plight of his former club Southampton and sees Thursday’s game against them as part of his preparations for next season.

The weekend defeat at Burnley looks to have ended Leicester’s hopes of Europa League qualification, with Puel’s side now nine points behind the seventh-placed Clarets.

But after back-to-back losses, the Frenchman wants Leicester to respond and finish the campaign strongly, with Everton and Newcastle now breathing down their necks in the table.

The next chance the Foxes have to do that is at home to Southampton, who are fighting against relegation and arrive at the King Power Stadium in the bottom three and five points from safety.

“Southampton is not my concern. I don’t want to comment about Southampton,” said Puel, who was sacked by Saints at the end of last season despite an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League and a League Cup final appearance.

“I can say I like a lot of people working at Southampton. I have a good relationship with a lot of players and people still there, but my focus is on Leicester and on this game.

“We want to defend our place in the top half of the table. We need to keep a serious ambition and defend our place because a lot of teams are close behind us. It is important for us to finish strongly and to prepare also for next season.

“We have some strong work to do in the summer to prepare the squad for next season. This game will be the beginning of next season, I think.

“Not just to experiment with different situations and different players, of course, but we can play with more freedom and we can enjoy our football without pressure.”

Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and striker Shinji Okazaki are injury concerns for Leicester after ankle injuries forced them off during the defeat at Burnley.

Daniel Amartey has resumed training after his hamstring injury but Thursday’s game might come too soon for him to be involved while fellow midfielder Wilfred Ndidi is available again after a ban.

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