Predicted Leicester XI for Birmingham: Daka starts in 4-3-3

Leicester City travel to face local rivals Birmingham City as the Foxes look to make it four in a row. Enzo Maresca is sure to make some tough calls in his starting XI: here is what we think the Italian will do.
Leicester City v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship
Leicester City v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship / David Rogers/GettyImages

Leicester City have injury troubles as they prepare for their crucial Championship clash against Birmingham City on Monday. The Foxes, who are at the summit, are lacking five key players, sidelined with various ailments. It is believed that Jamie Vardy, Yunus Akgun, Kasey McAteer, Callum Doyle, and Harry Souttar are all ruled out for the match. Meanwhile, Marc Albrighton is a doubt for the tie, while it might be too early for Kelechi Iheanacho to return.

Luckily for Maresca, the King Power side have myriad options to choose from to take up positions, and plenty of youth stars ready to make an impact. With these players out though, it does make it easier to expect a strong starting XI looking to take advantage of Ipswich Town's 1-1 draw with Norwich City.

Leicester City expected starting XI

Leicester will set up in their usual formation: a fluid 4-3-3 which - in-possession - alters to an effective 3-4-3 with a fullback joining defensive midfield to let the other midfielders push forward. 'MarescaBall' has been successful if occasionally fragile in defence due to the lack of pace in the backline. The first guarantee for the lineup is of course Danish goalkeeper Mads Hermansen.

1. Jannik Vestergaard

2. Wout Faes

3. James Justin

4. Ricardo Pereira (C)

5. Harry Winks

6. Wilfred Ndidi

7. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall

8. Stephy Mavididi

9. Abdul Fatawu Issahaku

10. Patson Daka

Against Millwall, Maresca opted for Conor Coady ahead of Justin. However, I would argue the English fullback is a better fit to the left-sided centre back role which out-of-possession morphs into an out and out left back. Coady is certainly a strong defender, composed and brilliant, but the Danish CB and Belgian Wout Faes are unlikely to be removed from the team in favour of either Coady or the doubtful Souttar.

The Foxes midfield cannot exist without its 'Clockwork' Winks and 'Dynamo' Dewsbury-Hall: the pair are an inseparable duo that determine the tempo and creativity of the East Midlands side. The Nigerian midfielder has been a standout performer out of the other options, although Dennis Praet is finally making his way back into the team. I'd expect the Belgian to get a chance shortly, just not this match.

I would also find it most uncouth if the Italian opted for the also doubtful Kelechi Iheanacho - who may be back for this fixture - over the in-form Zambian striker. Patson Daka has been waiting patiently for his opportunity to shine, and has scored in the previous two matches. I bet Daka can get that hattrick (as in scoring three matches in a row). Plus, Daka deserves every chance that comes his way now.

I would also predict to see Praet, Tom Cannon, Hamza Choudhury, and Ben Nelson from the bench. There should be few surprises as Leicester City could really do with the three points to pull clear of 'story of the season' Ipswich Town and further ahead of fellow relegated side Leeds United. Birmingham City will be a tough test even if they have been inconsistent in their last five matches. A strong XI will be crucial to pushing onwards.