Claudio Ranieri says the spirit within Leicester City’s dressing room can maintain their Premier League title push as they prepare to host West Brom on Tuesday.
Leaders Leicester ensured their spot at the top of the table after 27 games thanks to Leonardo Ulloa’s late winner against Norwich City on Saturday, the substitute sliding in to convert Marc Albrighton’s low cross in the 89th minute.
The win may have come at a cost, however, with influential midfielder N’Golo Kante limping out with a hamstring injury that renders him a doubt for Tuesday’s meeting.
Ulloa has found time on the pitch difficult to come by due to the performances of regular starters Jamie Vardy, Shinji Okazaki and Riyad Mahrez.
However, Ranieri insists there are no grumblings of discontent within his squad and that could prove to be a telling factor as they target a sensational first Premier League title.
“Everybody is happy because the team is playing well and is top of the league,” he said after the Norwich win.
“Everyone would like to play, but it’s not possible. They believe in the project and they believe their team-mates are playing well.
“For me it’s important to believe in them because, when I need some changes, they are ready. For this reason I’ve said many times we have a fantastic dressing room.”
Victory over Norwich – a ninth game without defeat at home in the league – ensured Leicester will remain top heading into the visit of West Brom, themselves coming off the back of a morale-boosting 3-2 win over Crystal Palace.
Leicester have won their last two meetings with Albion 3-2, but Tony Pulis’ side showed they have plenty of quality as they dismantled Palace in the first half on Saturday.
With Saido Berahino back in the team alongside Salomon Rondon and Stephane Sessegnon they scored three times in the opening 31 minutes, before hanging on despite a Palace recovery.
Berahino netted his fourth of the season in that win and Pulis believes his form in the latter part of the campaign could prove vital as they look to continue their climb away from trouble.
“Saido is a bit different, but he’s a talent and has wonderful ability,” Pulis said.
“I keep saying to him God’s given him a gift and he should be squeezing the life out of it and show everybody how good he is.
“He still a bit short [of match fitness], but he’s worked hard. He’s still short on what he was doing last year and he knows and understands that.”
Albion will be without Chris Brunt after he was substituted with a knee injury against Palace, while James Morrison (hamstring) and Callum McManaman (foot) also remain on the sidelines.
Key Opta Stats:
– Seven of the last eight meetings between Leicester City and West Brom in all competitions have ended as away wins.
– West Brom are unbeaten in their last six trips to Leicester.
– Leicester have now gone 463 minutes since they last conceded on home soil in the Premier League.
– The Foxes have lost just one of their last 16 Premier League home games.
– West Brom have attempted a league-low 82 shots on target in the Premier League this season.
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