Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ranieri expects Conte to deliver at Chelsea

SoccerNews in English Premier League 19 Sep 2016

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Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri believes fellow Italian Antonio Conte will prove a success at Chelsea as the two teams prepare to meet in the EFL Cup.

Conte has eight Scudetti to his name, five as a player and three as a coach, all with Juventus, while Ranieri’s long wait for the first top-flight title of his career surprisingly came to an end with the Foxes last season.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has entrusted Conte with the task of re-establishing the Blues as the preeminent force in English football, a project that, after a promising start, hit its first major stumbling block in the form a 2-1 loss at home to Liverpool on Friday.

But the Leicester boss, speaking ahead of the EFL Cup third-round tie at King Power Stadium on Tuesday, is adamant his compatriot will live up to expectations in London.

“I think he can bring trophies,” Ranieri said.

“He’s a winner. He needs time. I think he can [lift] some trophies.”

The visit of Chelsea to the will, should he make the journey north with the away team, serve as a first reunion between N’Golo Kante and his former Leicester colleagues, the France international having swapped the King Power Stadium for Stamford Bridge in July.

“I’ll give him a very warm welcome,” Ranieri said of the 25-year-old.

“I’m sure our fans must appreciate what he did last season and give a warm welcome back.

“N’Golo was very important for us. Maybe more important for us than Chelsea as they have so many defensive midfielders.”

Ranieri flagged the likely inclusion of some fresh faces in his starting XI, with reserve goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler to continue deputising for regular number one Kasper Schmeichel, who suffered concussion in training late last week and missed the 3-0 league win over Burnley on Saturday.

“I’m very excited as I believe in young players,” he said.

“They need experience. It’ll be a great experience against Chelsea.

“Ron-Robert Zieler [played] a very good match. I [will] continue with him. I think Schmeichel is ready for the weekend,” he added, predicting the Dane’s likely return away to his father Peter’s former side Manchester United on Saturday.

According to Ranieri, defender Yohan Benalouane, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Fiorentina, is in contention to tackle Chelsea but Nampalys Mendy, an off-season arrival from Nice, is not ready to return from an ankle problem.

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