Sitting pretty at the top with a 12-point lead over third-placed Southampton and coming after a stunning 5-0 victory against Stoke City in the last outing, Leicester enter the final third of the Championship season with a great deal of confidence. Ipswich Town seem to have faltered in recent games, possibly a hangover from their shock defeat against non-league Maidstone United, and Watford are languishing in mid-table with one win in the last seven games leaving them a staggering 31 points behind Saturday’s visitors. However, with Southampton and Leeds chasing hard, there is no room for complacency from LCFC.
Few changes to the team that started against the Potters are expected. The Foxes are almost back to full strength, the only definite absentee being Kelechi Iheanacho still on international duty after dramatically scoring the winning spot kick in the semi-final of the African Cup of Nations. The only injury doubt is at centre back. Jannik Vestergaard came off at half time against Stoke reportedly nursing a muscle tightness and it may well be that the Danish defender, a crucial cog in Maresca’s style of play, will not be risked on Saturday. Maresca will reveal all in his Friday afternoon press conference.
The Leicester boss will then have to choose between Ben Nelson, Conor Coady and Harry Souttar as his replacement. The latter, now back from representing Australia in the Asia Cup, has played little this season and is highly unlikely to be considered. Given Nelson came on for Vestergaard in the second half last week, the youngster may get the nod against Watford. This would be something of a risk given his lack of experience (he hasn’t as yet started a game in the Championship). I would choose Coady but Maresca has shown he is prepared to place confidence in youth.
The rest of the team I expect to be the same as that which took the field at the Bet365 Stadium last weekend. Ben Nelson will be accompanied by Wout Faes, Ricardo Pereira and Callum Doyle in defence. I also think that Maresca will be reluctant to change his midfield three despite the claims of Dennis Praet, reportedly the subject of interest from a Turkish club. Harry Winks, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Kasey McAteer will, I think, start. The front three, too, are likely to remain the same with Stephy Mavididi and Abdul Fatawu on the flanks and Patson Daka through the centre.
Kiernan Dewsbury Hall