Leicester City drew 0-0 with Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday afternoon in their second pre-season game ahead of the new 2020/21 campaign.
The Foxes squad were given another run-out with a mixture of youth and first-team players gaining some important game time as preparations progress.
Here are some key quotes from Brendan Rodgers’ post-match interview with LCFCTV:
On whether it was a worthwhile exercise
“I think the quality improves as pre-season continues. It was a good exercise physically and we were able to get 90 minutes into some players and some more game time into others. Also, I think it's nice to get a look at some young players as well so overall a good exercise.”
Rodgers was happy with the game as a whole and was pleased with the fact that he managed to get his players some extended time on the pitch. Jamie Vardy, Wes Morgan, Dennis Praet, Luke Thomas, and Kelechi Iheanacho all made their first appearances of the new season.
The Foxes boss also gave praise to the youth players who have been involved throughout the two games of pre-season so far. Ahead of a busy campaign, due to the club’s involvement in the Europa League, the younger players may be needed for some extra squad depth.
On the tight game and the Foxes’ chance creation
“We had a number of really good moments where we needed to make the last pass or make the right decision to score. We showed good moments in the build-up to arrive there and they had one or two chances as well, so not a great game for quality but plenty of effort.”
Leicester threatened at times with Vardy having the best chance of the first half and Demarai Gray having two left-footed efforts miss the target. Iheanacho also went on a mazy run into the box but the Nigerian failed to test the Wednesday goalkeeper.
Rodgers was happy with his team’s performance and praised their creativity after some smooth build-up play throughout the game.
Sheffield Wednesday looked for a goal using their aerial prowess and did have chances to score with a couple of headers flying over the bar from close range.
On the Foxes squad’s fitness
“We still have a long way to go and I think because of the nature of the season and when it’s going to start, then the players will still be searching for it but we’ve still got a couple of weeks to go.”
Rodgers assessed his squad’s fitness post-game and revealed where he thinks his players are at.
After the usual schedule was disrupted by Covid-19, teams are only just returning to begin pre-season. Usually, the Premier League would be underway and fitness levels would be at the maximum.
However, after the delay, the Foxes have only played two games so far in preparation for the new campaign which is now only two weeks away, meaning players are some way off full fitness.
On the younger players who have stepped up this pre-season
“They’ve been absolutely superb since they’ve come in. Their attitude’s been great, they’ve shown respect but they’ve played with no fear and looked to try and impress. There have been one or two younger ones like Sidnei [Tavares], who is younger than a number of the others and has come in and done very well also, so they’re a talented young bunch. Some of them will probably end up going out to Championship and League One clubs to continue with their development as well.”
Plenty of the U23 squad have been involved in Rodgers’ team selection for the games against Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday.
The Foxes boss has spoken about how impressed he has been with those who have stepped up and shown what they can do at a higher level of football.
Rodgers also mentioned the possibility of some players moving out on loan to gain some vital first-team experience. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Josh Knight have both spent time in League One and may look for a step up this year whilst other players such as Sidnei Tavares, Khanya Leshabela and George Hirst could aim for their maiden loan.
On the effects of the upcoming international break
“A lot of the players will be from today so they’ll go away and meet up with their national teams and some guys will stay and will be joined by some of our U23 players and in fairness to them, they’ve been with us over this Covid period so they’ve been used to working with us so we’ll still have a good number and we’ll continue with our preparation.”
Although the schedule is already tight and gives top players limited time to rest, the UEFA Nations League is still going ahead. This means that players will now leave pre-season preparations for their national side ahead of the Premier League campaign.
Rodgers revealed a lot of his team who took part in the game on Saturday afternoon will be heading across Europe, leaving only some first-team players and the U23’s to continue their planning.
Luckily for the Foxes, a lot of their youth team have trained and worked with the senior squad for the past few months meaning they should already be comfortable in that environment.