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Thursday 8 December 2016

Ranieri confident Foxes can save season

Claudio Ranieri Photo: PA
Claudio Ranieri Photo: PA

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has defended his misfiring Foxes and urged the club's critics to lay off.

The reigning Premier League champions have just eight points from the first eight games having lost four matches this season - one more than last term's title-winning campaign.

Former England striker Alan Shearer also questioned Jamie Vardy's workrate in Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Chelsea, which left Leicester 11 points behind leaders Manchester City.

They host FC Copenhagen in the Champions League tonight, with a 100 per cent record from two games in Group G and yet to concede a goal.

But the Foxes are only two points above the Premier League relegation zone and Ranieri is confident his players can turn their form around.

He said: "Sometimes you can play well and sometimes not so well. Like at Manchester United, the first half at Chelsea was no good but in the second half we played very well. I am very confident with my team.

"They fight and last season we were more compact but now everyone knows about us. Now we are in the balance, in the middle, and not as good as last season but it's normal for a team like Leicester.

"We want to improve but it's normal when we start the season to have something to work on because new players have come and everything is new. Maybe we want to do something more but we are Leicester, we're a good team and we have to show our qualities.

"I think we can fight in every match. Now our training sessions are Premier League and Champions League. We are getting better and have to be solid and strong and don't make any pressure about relegation."

Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani will return after starting on the bench at Chelsea and Ranieri admitted Leicester's back-to-back games against Copenhagen will define their Champions League future, with the reverse fixture in Denmark on November 2.

"At this moment it's a priority because in the Premier League we must be safe at the end of the year, the Champions League is now," he said. "The next two are very important for us."

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