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Friday 9 December 2016

Drinkwater compared to Pirlo by Foxes' Fuchs

Danny Drinkwater celebrates after scoring the first goal for Leicester
Danny Drinkwater celebrates after scoring the first goal for Leicester

Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater earned plaudits for another superb all-round performance in his side's victory against Stoke.

Drinkwater's display on Saturday, in which he scored one goal - his first in the Premier League - and made another for Jamie Vardy as the Foxes moved three points clear at the top of the table, was nothing new though.

The former Manchester United trainee (inset) has been something of an unsung hero in Leicester's surprise challenge for the title this season, as Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have regularly have grabbed the headlines.

After the 3-0 win, team-mate Christian Fuchs described him "the English Pirlo".

"I always tell him to shoot at goal because if you don't shoot you can't score a goal," his manager Claudio Ranieri said.

Substitute Leonardo Ulloa, a 62nd-minute replacement for the injured Shinji Okazaki, stabbed in Leicester's third goal from close range with three minutes remaining.

Ranieri revealed that Okazaki's injury was only minor, saying: "Shinji I think is okay, nothing serious. Just a problem behind the knee."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes, on the other hand, is far more concerned about the injury that forced Ryan Shawcross off after half an hour at the King Power Stadium.

"His back unfortunately locked up, and his hip," said Hughes.

"We're hopeful that it's nothing too serious and no recurrence of his problem that he had before. Hopefully it's just a muscular issue and we can loosen him off and he'll be okay, but it's a bit early to say at the moment."

Shawcross may miss the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Liverpool on Tuesday night but Hughes has his fingers crossed that Marko Arnautovic will be back from injury at Anfield as Stoke look to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit and make it to Wembley.

"Hopefully he will be fit, yes. We'll check him again," said Hughes, who was without the midfielder on Saturday.

"He hadn't trained all week and had only taken part in parts of the sessions so it was too much of a risk. Hopefully he'll benefit from the rest he had and be back firing on Tuesday.

"Marko we missed (on Saturday) because of his pace and power and ability to be able to retain the ball at the top end. We missed his influence but he's had an issue with his hamstring.

"It was a close call but in fairness I don't think it would have made a difference to the result because we needed to offer a lot more."

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