Claudio Ranieri has revealed he held talks with Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as Leicester City look to resolve their Premier League crisis.
The champions are in danger of relegation and sit just one point above the bottom three ahead of Sunday’s crunch clash away to 17th-placed Swansea City.
Mahrez, last season’s PFA Player of the Year, has only scored three goals and assisted two in 22 top-flight appearances this season.
Vardy, meanwhile, only has five goals in 21 outings having netted 24 times when Leicester won the title and under-pressure Ranieri has spoken to the star duo in a bid to get them back on track.
“To Riyad I said come back to last season,” Ranieri said at his pre-match media conference.
“Two words – come back. He is trying, he is positive and I am very happy when he is positive. When I see him smiling, that is OK.
“I spoke with Riyad, I spoke with Jamie. We know [what the problem is] but I cannot tell you – of course [it is top secret].
“Yes, [the meeting] was only them. They link together. If you see how many goals they score and assists they made last year and not this season, that is it.
“The chats are always interesting.”
CR: “I’m confident in my players. The win in the Cup will give us more confidence and we have to keep going.” #SwaLei
— Leicester City (@LCFC) February 10, 2017
Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha visited the squad this week and continues to back Ranieri, who was boosted by an extra-time FA Cup fourth round replay win over Derby Country this week.
The manager added: “I speak with the owner. I have a very good relationship with him. The chairman is always positive, full of energy. He is fantastic.
“We had a good match against Derby. The players who have not played consistently showed a good performance.
“Demarai Gray has grown up very well this season. I expect a lot from him because he is a very good player.
“If he continues and improves his defensive way he could be a very good player.”
Leonardo Ulloa is not yet ready to play, while Islam Slimani is short of full fitness but will be assessed ahead of kick-off.
Ranieri added: “Swansea are a very good team. They move the ball quickly. For us it is very important to play with the brain and our quality.”
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