The five key quotes from Brendan Rodgers' pre-Zorya Luhansk press conference
Brendan Rodgers takes charge of his first European match with Leicester City on Thursday evening | Photo: Getty/ Plumb Images

Leicester City embark on their first UEFA Europa League campaign this Thursday as they host Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk at the King Power Stadium.

The Foxes have competed at this level before around 19 years ago, however, the competition was known under its previous name, the UEFA Cup.

After a successful maiden Champions League campaign four years ago, where Leicester made it all the way to the quarter-finals, Brendan Rodgers will be optimistic that his team can try and replicate that achievement.

Here is what Rodgers has to say to the media ahead of the opening game of the group stage:

On Zorya Luhansk:

Leicester’s opponents Zorya Luhansk have been a mainstay in the Europa League since 2014 and therefore have considerably more experience in the competition.

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However, despite taking part in the tournament regularly, this campaign is only the third that they have qualified for the group stages.

Rodgers discussed Zorya’s threats and highlighted the difficulty of playing in Europe.

“We anticipate a really tough game,” he said. “Watching the games vs Kiev and Shakhtar - they play a diamond which is difficult to play against.

“They play it out well, and the front two are clinical. But it’s what you expect when you play in Europe you’re playing against the top clubs from their countries.”

On playing in Europe:

After what was a brilliant 19/20 Premier League season as a whole, Leicester secured a place in Europe by finishing fifth and they are now being considered as one of the favourites to win this competition.

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However, Rodgers was hesitant to look too far ahead and wants the players to enjoy playing at such a high level.

He said: “We worked so hard last year to be in this competition, and it’s been brilliant that we got the qualification and now we want to embrace it and enjoy it.

“I think we strip it back, the first job is to get out the group stage and do that. But we want to go as far as we possibly can.”

On bouncing back from consecutive losses:

The Foxes are heading into this fixture after consecutive losses in the Premier League. Rodgers’ side have only managed to have one shot on target in their 3-0 loss to West Ham and their 1-0 loss to Aston Villa combined.

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This concerning form has highlighted where Leicester need to improve and the Northern Irishman is demanding better performances from his players.

He said: “We’ve got a lot of improvements to make. The West Ham game we lost and the game against Aston Villa was a tight game. If we can’t win that we game, we shouldn’t be losing it.

“We need to get our creative players back up to speed, James Maddison is in a process of getting fitter and Praet is getting the minutes. But we want to keep improving.”

On squad injuries:

The Foxes have been hit hard by injuries over the past few months and are now without four key players.

Jamie Vardy, Wilfred Ndidi, Caglar Soyuncu, and Ricardo Pereira will all miss Thursday’s game, with the latter three expected to be on the side-lines for an extended period of time.

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Rodgers gave more detail on Soyuncu’s absence and confirmed his squad selection. He said: “Turkey told us that he’d be back in a week, but he had further scans here that showed he’d be out for longer. He’s going to London to see if he wants to treat it conservatively or have the operation.

“It’s pretty much the same squad [as Villa]. The only one is Slimani, who’s not in our European squad. But other than that, it will be all the guys who are fit at the moment.”

On the busy schedule:

With an injury-plagued squad, Leicester may struggle to cope with a large number of fixtures over the coming weeks. Rodgers admitted that the squad is thin and rotation may not be possible.

He said: “There’s no doubt that with all the games then we’ll have to make changes. But our squad isn’t deep enough to make wholesale changes because of the number of injuries that we have.”

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