Leicester City’s four-game winning run came to a halt with Wednesday’s loss to Chelsea, but Nigel Pearson’s men have their Premier League destiny in their own hands ahead of Newcastle United’s visit.
Pearson made the headlines for a bizarre post-match rant following the 3-1 defeat to the champions elect, comparing a journalist to an ostrich and labelling him “daft” and “stupid” – comments for which he later apologised.
He will hope the focus now returns to the field this weekend as Leicester host an out-of-form Newcastle, who are in danger of being dragged into the relegation battle themselves.
John Carver’s beleaguered side have lost seven in a row, leaving them four points above Saturday’s hosts.
“It’s important for us to go into the last few games with our destiny in our own hands,” Pearson said.
“There’s still a lot of hard work to be done. At the moment there’s a strange perception that there’s not. There is. Because it’s a quick turnaround and an early kick-off, we’ll have to take into consideration the fitness of the players.”
Carver has been impressed with Leicester’s revival and views the clash as “the biggest game of the weekend”.
“Four weeks ago Leicester were dead and buried, but Nigel has turned them around and they are in with a chance of staying up,” the head coach said.
“Saturday is a tough game. Leicester are very well organised, very strong and are a big, physical team.
“It’s the biggest game of the weekend, and huge for both sides. We need to stop this rot and get a result.”
Carver has had to contend with sustained criticism from the St James’ Park faithful, with fan boycotts underlining the level of dissatisfaction at the club’s plight.
When Newcastle welcomed Leicester to Tyneside in October, a 1-0 triumph sparked a six-match winning streak in all competitions.
Since that spell ended with November’s 1-0 loss to West Ham, Newcastle have won just four times.
Defeat at the King Power Stadium would certainly heighten fears of a return to the Championship.
Andy King came off with a knock against Chelsea, putting a downer on his 300th Leicester appearance, but the midfielder looks set to remain in the squad.
Pearson confirmed that David Nugent (calf) would miss out, while a decision is yet to be made on Robert Huth (knee).
Siem de Jong – who scored in the 3-2 loss to Swansea City last time out – is nearing full fitness for the visitors, but Carver confirmed he is still not ready to start, while Daryl Janmaat is available having fallen ill during Saturday’s defeat.
Paul Dummett (knee) is back in training and Moussa Sissoko has completed his suspension, but Papiss Cisse remains banned.