The five key quotes from Brendan Rodgers' pre- West Bromwich Albion press conference
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers before his side's pre season clash with Sheffield Wednesday | Photo: Getty/ Plumb Images

After what felt like the longest season ever last year, Premier League football is back for Leicester City on Sunday as they take on the newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.

The Foxes had an impressive campaign overall last year and finished fifth in the table, missing out on a Champions League place on the final day and will look to break into the top six once again, whilst also having to contend with the added pressure of Europa League football.

West Brom meanwhile are back in the top flight for the first time since 2018 after gaining automatic promotion from the SkyBet Championship last season and know that three points on the opening weekend could help them to avoid a relegation scrap this term.

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers spoke to the media via Zoom ahead of the all-Midlands clash this weekend. Here are some of the key quotes from the Northern Irishman courtesy of LeicestershireLive.

On aims for the season

"For us, it’s all about looking to improve. We had some great moments last year, and we fell just short of the Champions League. But what the players showed was the huge potential here. We want to be competitive, and challenge that top six again. We’re ready though for the challenge of European football and we want to go as far as we can.”

Although the second half of the season was disappointing in comparison to the first half, its undeniable that there is huge potential in this Leicester squad and they rightly finished in the top six.

European football has always been the long-term goal ever since the Foxes returned to the Premier League back in 2014, but now relishing continental action for the second time in six years - it is all about ensuring that Leicester are playing amongst Europe's elite regularly.

Other teams around have strengthened, but with only one key departure so far, the Leicester squad still remains a force to be reckoned with and will once again look to lead the charge and break through the walls of the usual 'big six' that football fans have become so accustomed to over the years.

On squad depth and transfers

“No we don’t, and that’s something I’ve been clear on. When we lost players of quality last season we didn’t have enough depth. Hopefully, in the following weeks we’ll have more clarity. There’s no doubt it’s [Covid-19] had a huge impact of all clubs. There’s no doubt that we’re not in the same market as Chelsea. We can’t compare that, and we’re working in a different market.”

There is understandable frustration from Rodgers in regards to the business that has been done in the summer transfer window.

At times last season the Foxes struggled with depth, highlighted notably when Wilfred Ndidi was injured at the start of 2020, as well as suspensions and injuries towards the end of the year which did not help the cause to finish in the top four and a bigger squad is vital with Leicester competing in four separate competitions this season.

As it stands, Leicester have only made one signing so far - Belgian wing-back Timothy Castagne from Atalanta who has replaced former academy graduate Ben Chilwell - who left for Chelsea and have been linked with several other names over the summer, but no deals completed.

Recent rumours have suggested that the East Midlanders could be close to making a second signing in the name of Wesley Fofana, a 19-year-old centre-back from ASSE Saint-Etienne but it is likely that will not be enough for Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman desperately wants more attacking quality, particularly in the wide area with David Brooks being mentioned amongst others as well as a striker to partner Jamie Vardy with a view to replacing him long-term after he decided forgotten striker Islam Slimani's future lies elsewhere.

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On the opposition

“They’ve got an excellent manager. West Brom are a very, very good club. They have some very good players with experience [in the PL] as well. It will be a difficult game for us and we’ll prepare for us.”

West Brom were originally on course to win the Championship last season, however a late dip in form meant they were able to clinch promotion on the final day of the season, following promotion rivals Brentford's slip-up against Barnsley. 

Having made some strong additions so far, including a former Leicester youth player in Cedric Kipre as well as top flight experience in the squad through players such as Charlie Austin and Jake Livermore, manager Slaven Bilic has assembled a squad that could be more than capable of avoiding the drop this season.

According to the bookies, the Baggies are one of the favourites to be relegated this season, however if they can turn their home into a fortress and pick up points here and there on the road, they will have every fighting chance.

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On Jamie Vardy's goals against West Brom

“We can’t just rely on Jamie! Other players have to give us that threat. But he’ll want to start off, like most goalscorers, and grab a goal or two!”

There is no doubt that the Hawthorns is a happy hunting ground for last season's Premier League Golden Boot winner.

The 33-year-old has scored on every visit to the West Midlands since his first trip in 2015, with one corner of the ground renowned for not being a fan of Vardy's taunting of the opposition when finding the net.

Whilst Vardy grabs the headlines, his manager is right in that the rest of the squad must also pose a threat. The likes of Harvey Barnes, Ayoze Perez and James Maddison must all be on form and take their chances and ensure Leicester return to the King Power Stadium with three points to their name.

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On Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall

“He’s a very good young player. He’d have hope to have more experience by now. There’s still a bit of time to go, but him getting games is important. We’ll assess if that’s here or elsewhere.”

In an unusually short pre-season, it was young prospect Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall who earned rave reviews, with supporters hoping to see him as part of the first-team.

The 22-year-old had a brief taste of first-team action in the FA Cup for Leicester last season whilst also impressing in a short loan spell with Blackpool and with the Foxes' hectic schedule, could be called upon.

Often the issue though, when a player as talented as Dewsbury-Hall is around, they need to be playing week in week out. Whether he can at Leicester remains to be seen, but there's every chance the midfielder could be loaned out once again.

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