Leicester given huge boost ahead of Project Restart

Leicester City, Brendan Rodgers (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Leicester City, Brendan Rodgers (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

Ahead of the return of the Premier League, Leicester City have been handed a huge boost for their opening game versus Watford.

Brendan Rodgers and his Leicester City side will kick-off their return to football with a trip to Vicarage Road, hoping to complete the double over Watford after the 2-0 win in December.

The meeting between the two sides comes with historical connections. With Troy Deeney’s injury-time winner in 2014 and the reunion with popular former manager, Nigel Pearson. The clash will be the first time Pearson will come up against the Foxes since he was dismissed following the 2014/15 season.

The hosts, unlike Leicester, are suffering from a few injury setbacks going into the nine-game mini-season. But how could that affect the outcome in two weeks time?

Watford’s defensive casualties

Both Daryl Janmaat (knee) and Jose Holebas (ankle) could miss out on the Hornets first game back.  However, with only 20 league games between this season, Pearson has mainly opted for Adam Masina and Kiko Femenia to patrol the full-back position.

The absence of Janmaat could dent Watford’s survival chances, with the former-Newcastle defender having a 71% tackle succession rate. His competitor for the right-back position, Femenia, has only a 61% succession rate.

For Holebas, there is a contrasting requirement for the Greek defender with five yellow cards in his 12 Premier League games. With Holebas in the side as a left-back, the pace and trickery of Ayoze Perez could benefit the Spanish winger and could provide him with the chance to show his worth to the Foxes fans.

Limited wide success

A major part of Watford’s style of play is the wizardry of Gerard Deulofeu and Ismaila Sarr from the wide positions. Following the famous 3-0 victory over league leaders Liverpool in February, Deulofeu picked up a knee injury and was forced to undergo surgery.

When the visit of the Foxes comes,  it will be over 15 weeks since the injury was picked up which means the Barcelona academy graduate could be fit to return for the Hornets.

If Deulofeu is unable to return in time for project restart, Watford are set to turn to Roberto Perarya or Joao Pedro.

Target man doubtful

When the Premier League announced that clubs were able to return back to training in small groups, Troy Deeney refused due to his five-month son suffering from breathing difficulties. However, the Watford captain has returned the club’s St Alban’s training ground as per Leicester Mercury. News that will not be kind to Foxes fans.

The Birmingham-born striker has scored four times against the Foxes in 15 appearances, including that strike at Vicarage Road in 2014. The exclusion of Deeney would pile the pressure on either Andre Gray or Pedro, depending on who Pearson opts for.

Leicester City’s potential game plan

If Deeney and Deulofeu do miss out, Leicester’s chances of winning at Vicarage Road for the first time since 2016 will improve. The absence of Deeney would be the major talking point, with his fellow Watford strike partners failing to impress so far this season.

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Foxes of Leicester’s predicted Leicester City XI for the clash is as follows: Kasper Schmeichel, James Justin, Jonny Evans, Caglar Soyuncu, Ben Chilwell, Wilfred Ndidi, Denis Praet, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy.