Claudio Ranieri has no fears for future as Leicester stars are rested

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has dismissed any fears over his future, but admits the club’s owner is not happy with their form.

The Foxes chief has left Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez at home for Wednesday’s Champions League game in Porto as he looks to revive their Premier League season.

Leicester, who lost just three league games en route to a shock title success last term, have suffered seven defeats this season and are just two points above the relegation zone, but Ranieri is unconcerned about losing his job despite the dissatisfaction of chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

“Never, because it’s not my decision,” the Italian said.

“The owner is always behind us, he always tells us how he can help us and is always positive. Of course he’s not happy — no-one at the club is.

“When we win, we win together. When we lose, we lose together. My experience says it’s important to stay calm and be positive, believe in your players and do the best for your team.”

Mahrez and Vardy will not play at the Estadio do Dragao while Robert Huth, Andy King, Islam Slimani and Kasper Schmeichel have also not travelled as Ranieri looks to keep them fresh for Saturday’s visit of Manchester City.

The Foxes have already qualified from Group G and are five points clear of second-placed Porto, who need to win to ensure they reach the last 16 ahead of FC Copenhagen.

Ranieri conceded if they needed victory in Portugal he would have taken a stronger squad, but is happy to hand his fringe men a chance with Demarai Gray, Leonardo Ulloa and Marcin Wasilewski expected to play and 18-year-old midfielder Harvey Barnes in the group.

He said: “If we had to win, maybe all my players would be here, but I can choose. Always I have said we have a very good team. There are some players who didn’t play so far — they deserve their chance to show their potential.

“The players who can play have a chance to play on Saturday. We have matches every three days now and I need all my players.

“When you don’t do well or you lose, the critics must be negative, but inside we must be very balanced. Saturday will be another fantastic match, against another big team and in this match (against Porto) I could choose some players and rest the others.

“I love people who in difficult situations react and I have fantastic players. I am sure we will react very well.”

Danny Simpson is one of the players who could keep his place and the right-back believes the Foxes’ shadow squad can prove themselves on Wednesday.

He said: “It’s a great chance for the players to show him (Ranieri) and the rest of the boys what they can do, away from home, at a great stadium and against a great team.”

Meanwhile, Porto boss Nuno Espirito Santo insisted his side can qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League without any Leicester favours.

Porto need to win to qualify as Group G runners-up as Copenhagen have a head-to-head advantage on away goals so will come second if they beat Club Brugge and Porto draw.

But Espirito Santo is not relying on the Foxes rolling over in Portugal.

He said: “We depend only on ourselves and we want to continue the journey we started in Rome.

“The approach is always going to be the same, there will be determination and commitment. The players know their responsibilities against Leicester and it will be a difficult game.

“Leicester are a great team and we will not make it easy for them. We only think of ourselves and what we have to do, we have to work with each other to reach the round of 16.”

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas will extend his Champions League victory record if Porto triumph as he chases a 94th win having surpassed Xavi in their 1-0 victory over Club Brugge last month.

The former Real Madrid star has not conceded in his last five games and said: “I think all the games are important, we are concentrating for this game and we know that we depend on ourselves. If we win we will be in the next round, it’s important for the city and the club and we want to win it.

“It’s important to be calm. We want to win all the games, we are a young team and must play as we have played so far, it’s a good squad but we also have a good relationship among us.”


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