Leicester vs QPR: Predicted Foxes XI

After a morale-raising FA Cup victory over Bournemouth in midweek, Leicester return to league action for a must-win home fixture against relegation threatened Queens Park Rangers. Here, we predict the Foxes starting XI.

Conor Coady. Deserves a Championship start?
Conor Coady. Deserves a Championship start? / Malcolm Couzens/GettyImages

Enzo Maresca made wholesale changes for the Bournemouth clash and his team selection  for that game hints strongly at his likely picks for Saturday. The two bones of contention are who replaces the suspended Jannik Vestergaard at centre back and which one of the three available central strikers is preferred? In both cases, I suspect that I will disagree with the choices the Leicester boss makes.

Wout Faes and Mads Hermansen weren’t even on the bench on Tuesday night and will return for Saturday’s game. James Justin was a late substitute and is likely to resume at left back for the clash with the team from West London. The right back berth is trickier. Hamza Choudhury was excellent against Bournemouth and is the obvious choice but he played the whole game on Tuesday. In addition, Maresca may feel that the Leicester-born player is not in the right frame of mind to play after his conviction for drink driving on Thursday.  It may be that Ricardo Pereira will step in but he has been excellent in a number eight role in the last couple of league matches.

Vestergaard’s absence is a big blow for the Foxes. His form this season has been awesome, and he was man of the match in the Bournemouth cup tie. His centre back partner, Conor Coady, was also very solid on Tuesday night putting in his best performance in a Leicester shirt. He provides much-needed leadership skills for a back line that has been guilty this season of conceding late goals. However, the former Everton man played the whole 120 minutes on Tuesday and, as a result, it is pretty clear (and I disagree with the Leicester Mercury’s Jordan Blackwell on this one), that Maresca intends to partner Wout Faes with Ben Nelson on Saturday. 

In midfield, Harry Winks and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall - both left at home on Tuesday - will return. That leaves one position to be filled with the choice between Pereira and Dennis Praet. I expect the Leicester boss will go with the Portuguese player. 

Stephy Mavididi and Abdul Fatawu are the obvious choices for the wing roles. The decision to leave Patson Daka out of the Cup match, too, suggests that he will come back into the side on Saturday, despite his glaring miss in the Leeds game for which he has received considerable stick. My preference, however, would be for Kelechi Iheanacho. As he demonstrated against Bournemouth when he came on in the second half, the Nigerian is the most adept at the key Maresca ploy of coming short and holding up the ball to play in other forward players. However, I suspect he will be back on the bench.

My predicted XI is therefore:

Mads Hermansen 

Hamza Choudhury

Ben Nelson

Wout Faes

James Justin

Harry Winks

Ricardo Pereira

Kiernan Dewsbury Hall

Abdul Fatawu

Patson Daka

Stephy Mavididi