Monday 21 January 2019

Puel defends struggling striker Iheanacho

Iheanacho has struggled for regular games and goals since a £25million move to Leicester.

Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho has scored 10 goals for the Foxes (Joe Giddens/PA)
Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho has scored 10 goals for the Foxes (Joe Giddens/PA)

By Nick Mashiter, Press Association Sport

Leicester boss Claude Puel has urged the critics to lay off misfiring striker Kelechi Iheanacho.

The 22-year-old has cost the Foxes £2.5million per goal since a £25million switch from Manchester City last year.

He has not scored in 12 games for club and country and was subjected to sarcastic jeers when he was substituted in the 2-0 defeat to Tottenham.

Iheanacho is expected to lead the line at Crystal Palace on Saturday, with Jamie Vardy likely to be on the bench after a groin problem.

And Puel insisted Iheanacho, who has scored 10 goals in 46 appearances for the Foxes, should not be burdened by his fee.

“It’s not my concern, it’s not his concern. Kele and other players are here to play and give their best,” he said.

“After the price of a player, it’s not their fault. For me we cannot have a relation between the player and his price. He didn’t ask anything.

“In football we have two positions which are very difficult, the goalkeeper and the striker.

“We make a judgement about how many saves he can do and how many goals he can score. We need to encourage this player because they have a lot of responsibility.

“Kele is a young player, he needs confidence, needs to continue to work and to have this strong character because a striker is a strong character and personality.

“He cannot realise a fantastic career if he cannot have a strong personality.”

Vardy has returned to training after missing the defeat to Tottenham and draw at Fulham earlier this month.

But Puel offered no guarantees the former England striker will be fit to start at Selhurst Park.

“I’m confident he can give his best, I don’t know if it’ll be at the beginning of the game or at the end,” he said.

“I’ve got confidence with my medical staff. There’s a lot of competence and quality to make a judgement of the injury.”

Press Association

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