Old Foxes Prospering in Preseason
Following a horde of transfers over the past few weeks, Leicester City are now three games into their preseason fixtures and currently crossing the Austrian border prior a friendly with Valencia, followed by a highly-anticipated clash with Real Madrid at the King Power Stadium a week on Saturday. With so many new signings, Foxes fans may be thinking that Sven-Goran Eriksson is starting to get an idea of his starting eleven to line up against local rivals Coventry City at the beginning of August.
Unfortunately, the old faces are not making it easy for him.
Clearly the players who have arrived at the club in recent weeks have strengthened the Leicester City squad considerably. It also means that with such a large squad, every player will be fighting for a starting place. This will prove to be crucial over the next ten months. The Championship season is long, and physically demanding. Players dip in and out of form, suspensions happen and injuries (while you would never wish them on anyone) do occur. A large squad goes a long way to ensuring success.
Eriksson's strategy in the first two preseason matches of giving every starter a full 90 minutes might seem an unusual method, but it is also very telling. Not only does it give the manager an idea of what he can expect from each individual player over the course of the entire game, but it also boosts the confidence of players who may be, or may have been, on the fringes for some time, and gives them all an opportunity to prove themselves. Bruno Berner and Matt Oakley have been given lengthy run outs in preseason, as well as Steve Howard - the veteran striker netted four goals in 45 minutes during yesterday's friendly with Swedish side Vasalund. Alexander Tunchev has also received playing time following a brief injury scare. Yuki Abe and Jeffrey Schlupp have been able to demonstrate their versatility, both being tried at wing backs in yesterday's game. Eriksson has made signings in all these players` respective positions, but the former England manager will be pleased to know he has very capable options all over the pitch.
It is possible that Eriksson has a good idea of his starting eleven for the opening day of the season. But the fact that he has not made any hasty decisions regarding fringe players is smart - at least until he is entirely happy with his squad. To date, this has been a successful preseason for Leicester City - not just in terms of results, but more importantly in a sense of preparing the squad to create the best possible opportunity to start the season strongly.
Expectations are very high this year; but, for now, the best of the preseason may be yet to come. The Foxes travel home next week for a friendly against European giants Real Madrid in front of a capacity crowd at the King Power Stadium. A strong performance in that match will surely give Leicester City a real sense of belief before the start of the new season.
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