Wilfred Ndidi ban will leave big hole in Leicester midfield – Claude Puel
The Nigerian was also sent off against Crystal Palace in December.
Claude Puel fears Wilfred Ndidi’s latest suspension will leave a noticeable gap in the centre of Leicester’s midfield.
The Foxes won 2-0 at Brighton on Saturday but the victory came at a cost as Ndidi was dismissed for a second bookable offence three minutes from time.
He is set to serve a two-match suspension following his second red card of the season, while the ban could yet be increased because of his initial refusal to leave the field.
Manager Puel, who thought Ndidi’s second yellow card – shown for a challenge on Brighton defender Shane Duffy – was harsh, said: “He is a very important player for us.
“He will get possession in a lot of balls and prevents the opponent from making contact.
“He’s been fantastic since the beginning of the season.
“To lose him just in this moment of the season is harsh for us because as a team we do not have a lot of players with the same attributes.
“We will try and find a solution, a collective response about this sending-off.”
Late goals from Vicente Iborra and Jamie Vardy, either side of Ndidi’s dismissal, masked a poor performance from the Foxes as they boosted their Europa League aspirations on the south coast.
Puel’s men were also indebted to goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who atoned for his error in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Chelsea by saving Glenn Murray’s 77th-minute penalty.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton believes it is important not to forget about Murray’s many match-winning contributions following his second costly spot-kick failure of the season.
The veteran striker, whose 13 Albion goals in all competitions have sparked rumours about a surprise England call-up, also missed from the spot in the goalless draw with Burnley in December.
“Glenn this season has been very good,” said Hughton.
“You look at the goals that he’s scored and he has scored goals that have won us games.
“Even in a hugely disappointing moment like it is now, they’re things that you still have to remember.
“It’s no different if a defender makes a mistake that leads to a goal.”
The Seagulls remain six points clear of the bottom three ahead of next weekend’s game with relegation rivals Huddersfield.
Hughton added: “It’s in our hands and one thing you don’t want to do is have to rely on any other team to lose games.
“We’ve got a home game against Huddersfield and it’s our responsibility, our opportunity to get three points.”