With national squads soon to be picked for this summer’s FIFA World Cup competition in Russia, a number of key Leicester players were called upon in the hopes of booking their places for the tournament by impressing in these warm-up games.
A total number of 12 senior Foxes had the call-ups by their respective national teams. With varying headlines for all the players, we look to their performances ahead of the players returns to the King Power Stadium.
Both Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire were in action for the Three Lions as England played two matches against the Netherlands and Italy.
In a hard fought 1-0 win away to the Netherlands at the Amsterdam Arena, Maguire was brought off the substitutes bench early on to replace the injured Joe Gomez and looked solid throughout in the heart of England’s defence. Vardy was brought into the game with 20 minutes remaining and unfortunately didn’t have a chance to really influence the game at all.
Gareth Southgate’s men were in action again on Tuesday night in a 1-1 draw with Italy at Wembley Stadium. Vardy scored the goal for the Three Lions in the 26th minute after Jessie Lingard cleverly took a quick free-kick to find Vardy on the edge of the box to fire the ball into the back of the net. He looked threatening throughout the game before being substituted for Marcus Rashford in the 70th minute. Maguire was an unused substitute.
Elsewhere in the England set-up, Demarai Gray and Ben Chilwell featured for the under-21’s team in matches against Romania and a UEFA U21 Championships qualifier against Ukraine. Winger Gray wore the captain’s armband scoring the opening goal in the 2-1 victory against Romania, Chilwell remained on the substitutes bench.
Chilwell eventually featured in the 2-1 victory against Ukraine at Bramall Lane where he played the full 90 minutes setting up the winning goal with an in-swinging whipped cross from the left side of the pitch. Gray started but was swapped for Ademola Lookman late on. The victory means that the Young Lions remain top of their group clear by five points.
Kasper Schmeichel’s clean sheets helped his team earn back-to-back clean sheets in games against Panama and Chile.
Over two fixtures, the Foxes had sent a contingent of three players to feature for the Nigerian national team. The Super Eagles’ first match was a 1-0 victory against Poland. Both Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho started the match, with the former controlling the midfield for large parts of the game. Ahmed Musa who is currently away on loan at CSKA Moscow was brought into the game from the substitutes bench in the 60th minute.
The Super Eagles travelled to England for their match against Serbia which was played at Barnet’s ‘The Hive Stadium’. Ndidi and Musa both started the game but were unable to stop a 2-0 loss thanks to a brace from Newcastle United forward Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Iheanacho was not named in the squad for this match after breaking his hand earlier on. He will be assessed on this injury on his return to the King Power Stadium later in the week.
Winger Riyad Mahrez played the full 90 minutes in the 4-1 dispatching of Tanzania in Angiers and was instrumental throughout.
Mahrez and Islam Slimani, currently away on loan at Newcastle, were unable to break through a resolute Iranian defence in a match that ended 2-1 to the latter in Graz, Austria. Mahrez started the match but was eventually substituted in the 68th minute. Slimani was brought into the match with 30 minutes remaining.
The international break was a momentous one for 31-year-old defender Yohan Benalouane. He earned himself his international debut in a 1-0 against Iran at the national stadium in Rades. He played a full 90 minutes playing mostly on the left side of the defence.
He was called up again for his second cap on Tuesday night but featured for just four minutes in injury time in a 1-0 victory against Costa Rica.
Aleksandar Dragovic had to wait until Tuesday night to feature for his national team Austria in an emphatic 4-0 win away at Luxembourg. The defender was solid in the centre of Austria’s defence and played the full 90 minutes.
Adrien Silva was in no doubt delighted to be called up by national side Portugal in the build-up to this world cup. He remained a doubt due to the lack of competitive football and having to wait until new years day to finally complete his move to Leicester City.
He had to wait a little while longer however as he waited for Portugal’s 2-1 win against Egypt on the bench. He eventually started their next match against the Netherlands on Monday night. The Portuguese were shocked to find themselves going into the break 3-0 down.
Silva was replaced by Ganchinho Guedes during halftime. The match eventually finished 3-0 after the Portuguese stiffened up their defence.