Claudio Ranieri is putting no pressure on Jamie Vardy to continue his goalscoring run when Leicester City entertain Watford at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
By netting in the 3-2 win at West Brom last weekend, Vardy matched the feats of Daniel Sturridge and Ruud van Nistelrooy of scoring in eight consecutive Premier League appearances.
The England international’s league tally for the season now stands at 11 in as many as matches – he mustered five in 34 outings last term – and he will edge closer to Van Nistelrooy’s record of goals in 10 successive top-flight games if he is on target against a Watford side searching for third clean sheet in a row.
Vardy’s heroics have helped propel Leicester up to third – three points off leaders Manchester City – but Ranieri just wants the striker to focus on being a team player.
“I never speak about it [Vardy’s scoring record]. It’s important that he’s free to enjoy it,” said the Leicester boss.
“It’s about the team. The team help you play better and to score goals.”
Vardy’s impressive displays have seen him included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the forthcoming friendlies with Spain and France, and Ranieri is thrilled the striker – and other players in his side – are getting recognition.
“I’m very pleased when my players are involved in international games. It’s a great experience for them,” he added.
The 28-year-old may have his work cut out for him against Watford – the team whose Premier League matches this season have seen the fewest goals with 20.
Quique Sanchez Flores’ side have conceded the fewest of any side outside the top five and on-loan defender Nathan Ake believes Watford are becoming increasingly solid.
“I’m definitely feeling more comfortable. I think as a defence we are playing better every week,” he said.
“Tactically, [Miguel] Britos is really good and defensively we don’t concede many chances.
“The whole back four talk to each other throughout the game and the way we are performing is really good. But we can always improve.”
As well as having a cohesive defence, Watford – who sit 11th – have been able to rely on Odion Ighalo finding the back of the net.
The Nigerian has scored seven times in the top flight so far – only Vardy has scored more – and should recover from a knock picked up late on in the 2-0 win over West Ham in time to feature.
Jurado could also be in line for a return from a hamstring injury against Leicester, but Joel Ekstrand (knee) is not expected back until 2016.
Matty James is Ranieri’s only long-term absentee with a knee injury, while Christian Fuchs could be in line for a return after missing out last week.
Key Opta stats:
– Leicester games have seen the most goals in the Premier League this season (42), while Watford games have seen the fewest (20).
– Jamie Vardy is only the third player to score in eight successive Premier League appearances (Ruud van Niselrooy – 10 games, and Daniel Sturridge – eight games).
– Odion Ighalo is now the highest scorer in Watford’s Premier League history with seven goals – this despite having only played 11 games in the competition.
– Leicester are the only team in the Premier League who have scored in every game this season.
– Watford have lost just one of their last six Premier League away games (W3 D2 L1).