Leicester City - Southampton Preview: Foxes look to push on

Southampton making the trip North to the King Power Stadium in hope to reduce Leicester's 5-point lead at the top.

Leicester City - Southampton Preview: Foxes look to push on
Togetherness: Needed now more than ever before for the Foxes.Getty Images

After another international break, the Premier League resumes with no further breaks until the season end. Leicester will be looking to further strengthen their grip on the Premier League trophy by getting all three points against a tough Southampton side.

The Saints travel to the East Midlands in the hope of denting the Foxes' title charge. They currently occupy seventh position with a slight outside chance of European football for the second consecutive season. To have any real chance of a top five place, a win against Ranieri's side is imperative. However, only two sides have managed to win against the Foxes in the league this season and it will be a tough task for Southampton to add themselves to the list.

International Duty

Both teams had players on the international scene in the recent break and the Foxes, in particular, had their players right under the spotlight. A number of Leicester players really shone during the last couple of weeks, whilst some had the two weeks worth of break before returning to action. Danny Drinkwater made a great impression on his first England call-up, receiving a Man of the Match award in his first start for his country. Whilst club and country team-mate, Jamie Vardy, notched two goals in his two appearances, the first of which (a sublime flick at the near post past Manuel Neuer) his first in an England shirt.

Shinji Okazaki netted his 48th Japan goal in a break where he recorded his 100th cap for the Blue Samurai. Another of the Foxes' key players, Riyad Mahrez, notched up five assists and a goal for Algeria in just two games. N'Golo Kante also had a very successful trip with the French national team, making his international debut and also scoring a very rare first goal for Didier Deschamps' men. Other Leicester players who represented their countries include Jeff Schlupp and Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Tom Lawrence (Wales), Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark), Wes Morgan (Jamaica) and Christian Fuchs (Austria).

The Saints also had a healthy international contingent over the break with Ryan Bertrand and Fraser Forster being called up by Roy Hodgson for the England squad, however, only the latter featured for the Three Lions, in the loss at home to the Netherlands. Jordy Clasie and Virgil van Dijk were also involved in the same fixture, however only the first of the two players came off the bench, even if it was just a 93rd-minute cameo. Although, both players did start in the Netherlands' 2-1 defeat to France. Two of Southampton's players featured for Portugal in their two matches - Jose Fonte and Cedric saw their country beat Belgium but lose to Bulgaria.

Saints frontman, Shane Long, scored and got an assist for the Republic of Ireland as they drew 2-2. Northern Ireland also had two Southampton players playing for them, Lloyd Isgrove made his first appearance for the senior team whilst Steven Davis picked up his 79th. The other Saints international players included: Sadio Mane (Senegal), Victor Wanyama (Kenya), Cuco Martina (Curacao), Maya Yoshida (Japan) and Graziano Pelle (Italy).

European Push

With the Premier League nearing its epic finale, it's time for both sides to really push for what they both want to achieve. For Leicester, the title and for Southampton, Champions League or Europa League football. Ronald Koeman's team are currently sitting in the place in which they finished last season: 7th, they experienced European football in the pre-season of this season however they feared very poorly, getting knocked out by Midtjylland in the first play-off round. It did prevent the possible distraction from the league, but Koeman made his disappointment clear at being knocked out early on, especially after his European triumphs in his playing days. If given a second chance next season, the ex-Barcelona enforcer would surely express just how important it would be to have a run in the competition.

At this stage of the campaign, it would be harder for Claudio Ranieri's men to avoid European football than to get it, therefore, the Foxes need to start preparing for the eventuality. The Foxes have had a slight taste of European football before in the previously-named UEFA Cup, but on neither occasion did they win, losing to Atletico Madrid in 1997 and Red Star Belgrade in 2000. Christian Fuchs is the only player in the squad currently who has had any real experience of Champions League football which may force experienced transfers in the summer leading up to a campaign of league and continental football. The boss has had plenty of experience on the European stage with teams such as Chelsea, Valencia, Juventus, Roma, Inter and Monaco. This will be vital to Leicester's imminent involvement in next season's competition as well as the evident need for some experienced European footballers.

Team News

It's the same story for Leicester as it has been all season in terms of injuries, Matty James still out indefinitely and another player joining him with a slight knock. This time it's Andy King, who's still in doubt whether he'll return to the matchday squad. His slight hamstring injury came nearly a month ago and should see him, at least, return to the bench for Sunday's clash. It shouldn't be too long before Matty James pulls on the blue shirt, but the incredible form of Kante and Drinkwater, he wouldn't even get a sniff at the starting 11.

The only new injury news for Ronald Koeman off the back of the international break is the knock to Ryan Bertrand who had to withdraw from the England squad before the Germany game. He joins Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin on the injury list who may be back in contention to feature for the Saints against the league-leaders. Florin Gardos remains injured and possibly won't return for Southampton before the end of the season after a nasty knee injury he obtained before the season started back in July.

Predicted Line-ups

Leicester City - Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs; Marc Albrighton, Danny Drinkwater, N'Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez; Jamie Vardy, Shinji Okazaki

Southampton - Fraser Forster, Cedric, Jose Fonte, Virgil van Dijk, Ryan Bertrand; James Ward-Prowse, Victor Wanyama; Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic, Shane Long; Graziano Pelle