Leicester City vs Zorya Luhansk preview: How to watch, kick off time, team news, predicted lineups and ones to watch
Leicester City play Zorya Luhansk in their first group game in the 2020/21 Europa League | Photo: Getty/ Harold Cunningham - UEFA

European football returns to the East Midlands for the first time in three years on Thursday as Leicester City host Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine in the UEFA Europa League.

The Foxes' last venture into continental football took them all the way to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals in the 2016-17 season, where a narrow defeat to Atletico Madrid saw them exit the competition at the last eight stage.

This will be the first time Leicester will have played in the Europa League since 2000 when the competition was known as the UEFA Cup, losing in the First Round to Serbian side Red Star Belgrade.

For Brendan Rodgers' men as well, it will be a chance to put an end to a small dip in form after defeats in their last two games against West Ham United and Aston Villa following an impressive start to their Premier League campaign.

For Zorya, this will be a return to the Europa League for the first time since the 2017-18 season after previously being knocked out in the Qualifying Round by Espanyol and RB Leipzig at their last two attempts.

Away from Europe, it has been an uninspiring start to the season in domestic football for Luhansk - winning just one of their six league games so far -  but they will now turn their focus to the trip to the King Power Stadium as they look to reach the knockout stages for the first time in the club's history.

Team News

Leicester will be without their main talisman Jamie Vardy along with a host of other key players through injury.

Vardy sat out of Sunday's defeat to Aston Villa due to a recurring calf problem, and with Leicester boss Rodgers confirming the 33-year-old won't play a part on Thursday, Kelechi Iheanacho is all but guaranteed to lead the line after Islam Slimani wasn't registered for the Europa League squad.

Other long term injuries include the likes of Caglar Soyuncu, who isn't expected to return until the new year at the earliest, as well as Ricardo Pereira, Daniel Amartey and Wilfred Ndidi who are also restricted to the sidelines with long-term problems.

Cengiz Under could make his first start however as Leicester are expected to rotate ahead of a difficult away trip to Arsenal on Sunday following Thursday night's action.

For Zorya boss Viktor Skripnik, injury issues are not as much of a concern with goalkeeper Zauri Makharadze and midfielder Maksym Kasakov expected to play no part.

Young striker Allahyar Sayyadmanesh could be in line for a debut though however after he joined on loan from Turkish giants Fenerbache S.K. earlier in the month.

Embed from Getty Images

Predicted Line-Ups

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Castagne, Fofana, Evans, Justin; Mendy, Tielemans, Maddison; Albrighton, Iheanacho, Under.

Zorya Luhansk: Shevchenko; Favorov, Vernydub, Abu Hanna, Leovigildo; Cvek; Kochergin, Nazaryna, Kabaev, Ciganiks; Sayyadmanesh.

Who are Zorya Luhansk?

Zorya Luhansk were formed back in 1923 under the former names Zaria Voroshilovgrad and Zorya-MALS before changing the club name to it's current title in 1964.

The side, nicknamed the Muzhyky (The Men), currently play their home games at the The 12,000 capacity Slavutych Arena in Zaporizhia which is just over 400km away from their original home in Luhansk, where they unable to play at due to the ongoing conflicts in the East of Ukraine.

Thursday's visit to Leicester will be the second time Zorya will have come up against English opposition, having previously faced Manchester United in the Europa League group stages in the 2016/17 campaign - losing both of those fixtures.

Embed from Getty Images

Ones to Watch

Kelechi Iheanacho - Leicester

After failing to make an impact in his last outing, Thursday presents another opportunity for Iheanacho to spear the Leicester City attack.

The Nigerian scored 10 goals in all competitions for the Foxes last season and with Leicester expected to have most of the ball at the King Power Stadium, could have the perfect chance to open his account for the season.

Mykyta Shevchenko - Zorya Luhansk

With first-choice keeper Makharadze out injured, club captain Mykyta Shevchenko will be the man tasked with keeping the Leicester attack at bay.

The 27-year-old has featured in all six of Zorya's league games so far, keeping just one clean sheet, but with previous European experience for Luhansk, Shevchenko's previous ventures could prove vital as he looks to guide his teammates to what would be a famous victory.

Embed from Getty Images

Pre-match thoughts

Ahead of the Foxes' first venture into Europe since the 2016-17 season, Leicester boss Rodgers admitted he is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

Speaking to www.LCFC.com after the draw was made, the Northern Irishman said: "It’s a big challenge for us, but it’s a challenge that we worked so hard for last year, to arrive into European football.

"We’re really going to embrace it and we’ll develop and become a better team because of the experience.

"It's different coaches, different managers, different players and all teams that will have their own level of dominance because they’ve had success in their own leagues.

How to watch 

The game kicks off at 20:00BST on Thursday 22nd October and is available to watch on BT Sport ESPN HD.