European football has finally returned for Leicester City in the UEFA Europa Conference League after being knocked out of the UEFA Europa League during the group stage, losing their final game against Italian side Napoli.
Despite the disappointment, there is still hope for Foxes fans to claim a trophy this season with the UEFA Europa Conference League still in their grasp, and their first stepping stone to achieving success in this competition is the Danish outfit, Randers FC.
When he was asked about Fofana, he had this to say: "He trains on Friday."
And regarding Jamie Vardy's recovery, he had this to say: "Vardy is working well, he’s 10 days to two weeks. He’s running on the pitch and is looking sharp."
Despite this, he has confirmed that Ricardo Pereira will miss out the game on Thursday due to it being "part of his plan." However he does go on to say, "we'll get him ready for the weekend.”
As well as Ricardo Pereira, James Justin is likely to miss out the match as well after picking up an injury at the weekend against West Ham United.
“It’s hindsight. He’s [James Justin] a young guy who is a real supernatural athlete. His plan and the feeling for him was that he felt strong.
We wanted to give Luke [Thomas] a rest, our youngest defender, so we had to find a place for him to have a breather. The plan was for JJ not to play on Thursday. He’s going to be a couple of weeks. It’s not too serious, but there’s a slight strain in there.”
This fixtures may also open the door for Rodgers to heavily rotate his side, with an abundance of players waiting to get their chance in the side at this crucial stage of the season for Leicester.
Names that could be thrown in for consideration are the likes of Ademola Lookman, who hasn't started since Leicester's 4-2 loss to Nottingham Forest, or perhaps Papy Mendy should be included after claiming the AFCON trophy with Senegal, earning himself a Man of the Match trophy as well.
Another valid suggestion is the inclusion is Welsh International goalkeeper, Danny Ward, replacing Kaspar Schmeichel as he would take the trip back home to Denmark in the reverse fixture.
Rodgers Has His Say...
In Brendan Rodgers' pre-match press conference, he discussed the the new challenge of playing in the Europa Conference League and how he means to face this new competition, as well as the threat of Randers to their route to the trophy. Here is what he had to say on the matter.
I didn't realise we were in this competition. I grew up being aware of three European competitions, now that we're in this competition, we want to win it, and we will give everything we can to do that. We’ll embrace it."
“They [Randers] play 4-4-2, they’re an honest team, the wingers come inside and they try to overload on the inside. We have to be at our best. The first leg at home, we want to continue with the positive elements of our game.”
Randers FC: Patrik Carlgren, Simon Piesinger, Hugo Andersson, Björn Kopplin, Tosin Kehinde, Lasse Berg Johnsen, Frederik Lauenborg, Simon Tibbling, Stephen Odey, Alhaji Kamara.
Ones To Watch
The Danish defender was signed from Southampton in the summer as an emergency backup for Wesley Fofana, who suffered a broken leg in pre season. Because a spot had opened up, and his signing followed a respectable spell at Southampton, fans were expecting Vestergaard to become a major part of the Leicester side, growing into a colossus at the back as they progressed as a team into competing for the top four spots in the Premier League.
That seems like a distant fantasy at the time of writing, with Vestergaard only being a bit-part in Brendan Rodgers' plans for this Leicester City side, only highlighting the hole Fofana had left even more.
It's safe to say that Vestergaard has been a disaster in a Leicester shirt, with his last two starts against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City being games where the Foxes conceded nine goals altogether, very distant from the solid and dependable partnership of Jonny Evans and Wesley Fofana, who lead Leicester to a fifth place finish in the 2021/22 campaign.
Despite this, Brendan Rodgers had high praise for the great Dane, highlighting that his experience is something he values very highly in defenders like Vestergaard:
“Jannik came in here with a specific role. We needed experience after we lost Wesley Fofana. He wasn’t quite fit. It’s been a difficult number of months. He put himself out there to play when he wasn’t fit. He’s got himself into a good condition. We have other players who play in his position. He’s a good guy and a top professional.”
Like Leicester's Papy Mendy, Alhaji Kamara also flew to Cameroon for the AFCON with his team Sierra Leone, where he scored a goal in the group stage in a 2-2 draw with Ivory Coast. Despite his efforts, Sierra Leone dropped out of the competition in the group stage and Kamara returned to Denmark to continue with his strong form for Randers.
He has become a talisman for Randers this season, scoring six goals in fourteen league appearances for Randers, as well as providing two goals and two assists in the UEFA Europa League. If the Foxes need to look out for anyone, they need to look out for him.
How To Watch...
Leicester City vs Randers will be shown on BT Sport 3, kicking off at 8PM (GMT)