June 23, 2021

Rodgers explains how Leicester City players can help Slimani after his return against Aston Villa

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On Sunday, the Algeria striker played his first competitive match for the Foxes in almost three years

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers said his players need to understand how to play with Islam Slimani upfront after he made his Premier League return in their 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday.

The 32-year-old who spent the last two-and-a-half seasons on loan at Newcastle United, Fenerbahce and Monaco, made his first appearance in English football since April 2018 as a second-half substitute at the King Power Stadium.

Slimani replaced Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho in the 71st minute but could not register a shot on target as the Foxes conceded their second straight loss in the English top-flight.

The encounter was his first game since March 7 when he played in a Ligue 1 fixture between Nice and Monaco before the abrupt end to the season due to coronavirus.

However, Rodgers acknowledged the Slimani’s ability in the penalty area and wants his players to supply him with more balls in the air.

“He had a couple of good contacts in the box,” Rodgers was quoted by Leicestershire Live.

“I think with Slim, it’s just a case of the players getting used to playing with that type of striker.

“We’re always looking to get in behind defenders or pull it back, because we don’t usually have that same presence, even though Jamie is really good in the air.

“But when you have Slim on the field, you can wrap it in there that bit earlier for him. It’s something that’s a very important part of our game, from half-spaces out wide, we tend to get crosses in, but we probably couldn’t find the quality that makes the difference.”

Slimani might have another opportunity to prove himself in Leicester City’s attack on Thursday with Jamie Vardy expected to miss their Uefa Europa League opener against Zorya.

“Jamie will probably miss Thursday [v Zorya]”, Rodgers said, per Football London. “It’s a recurrence of a problem he’s had for a number of years with his calves.

“This isn’t serious so we’re hopeful he’ll be ready for the next league game.”