Maresca’s first choice XI
Managers will always say in public that modern football is a squad game. And they are right. In a long season, when the team will be hit by injuries and suspensions and there is a need to rest players, rotating the squad is essential. As a case in point, the Leicester boss made six changes for the visit of Stoke from the team that took the field against Preston North End on Wednesday evening.
It is clearer now, however, what Maresca thinks is his best XI. In the back four, Ricardo Pereira, Jannik Vestergaard, Wout Faes and Callum Doyle would, I think, be his first choice at the moment. Doyle is long-term injured and Faes was rested for today’s game. In midfield, Harry Winks, Ndidi and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall would, all things being equal, be starters. Up front, it is clear that he thinks Jamie Vardy still has something special to offer but he also recognises that he can’t, at his age, play every game. Out wide, the one certain first choice is Stephy Mavididi, a player one Foxes legend – Emile Heskey – thinks is as good as Harvey Barnes.. The one position where there is no obvious favourite is wide right. Young Kasey McAteer might, eventually, become the boss’s preferred option. While he is side-lined, Yunus Akgun and Abdul Fatawu compete for that position.
Foxes’ fans, of course, might disagree with Maresca’s choices. One contentious decision is to leave Conor Coady out. Vestergaard has taken full advantage of the former Everton defender’s injury and is now indispensable. To have four competent centre backs to choose from is, of course, a nice position to be in and is a reflection of the strong squad possessed by the King Power outfit. Stoke could have been forgiven for wilting when, in the second half, Leicester were able to bring on Ndidi, Vardy and Mavididi.