Puel calls for unity at Leicester amid continued absence of Mahrez
The midfielder is to miss a third consecutive match when the Foxes face Manchester City on Saturday.
Leicester boss Claude Puel has called for unity in the continued absence of Riyad Mahrez.
Puel confirmed that the want-away midfielder would miss a third consecutive match on Saturday when Leicester face Manchester City – the team who launched a late bid to sign Mahrez at the end of last month’s transfer window.
The 26-year-old has not been seen by the club since Leicester blocked what would have been a dream move to the Premier League leaders.
While Puel was clear that Mahrez would not feature against Pep Guardiola’s side, he refused to clarify a number of other details.
The Frenchman would not say if he had spoken to Mahrez since his absence began on January 30, whether he knows the whereabouts of the Algerian, or if he could put a date on a return.
“I think Riyad is not available for Saturday’s game. I hope he can come back and work hard with the team sooner rather than later, of course, we will see,” said the Leicester manager.
“The most important thing for me is to keep Riyad and the club and the fans united and in a good way about this. It is important to keep a good feeling together through these difficulties.”
Sources at the club stress that keeping details confidential is paramount in adhering to employment law but the uncertainty surrounding Mahrez’s future is casting a shadow over the King Power Stadium.
Puel said: “I can understand all this speculation about the situation but I cannot comment on this, it is not right.
“I don’t want to give details about our relation. It is important all the details remain inside the club and not public.
“There are 12 Premier League matches remaining. It is important to keep calm and focus and concentrate. It is important to keep a good feeling. We need to enjoy our football and look forward.
“I hope Riyad can get his head right and come back with us and work hard. The best way is for him to come back and enjoy his football. He is a magnificent player and he enjoys his football. He loves his team-mates, and that’s important.”
With Mahrez still absent, the only change to the squad that travels to Manchester City will see Shinji Okazaki miss out with a knee injury. The striker could be sidelined for up to two weeks with the problem.