Leicester stars have come out fighting ahead of today’s crunch relegation battle, saying: Don’t question our bottle.
The Foxes have been hurt by suggestions that they have not lived up to their billing – with reports of dressing-room rifts and speculation over manager Claudio Ranieri’s future.
The club’s Thai owners issued a statement of unconditional support for the Italian this week after Leicester had slipped deeper into relegation peril.
But a victory over local rivals Derby County in the FA Cup restored some of the calm – and Ranieri looked far more relaxed than he did last Sunday when Manchester United won 3-0 in the east Midlands.
His skipper on Wednesday night, Andy King, had a message for the critics, saying anyone doubting Leicester’s mental strength should know better.
King said: “We’ve seen the stuff flying around. But we are 100 per cent behind everyone at the club. And I think it would be naive of people to doubt the strength of this group.
“With the journey and performances we have had over the past three or four years, I don’t think we can be questioned on that.
“We are a group of fighters here. We are good players. Have we taken our eyes off the ball? No, I don’t think we have. We knew this campaign was going to be tough.
“If we knew what was wrong, we’d put it right. Personally, I just think that one thing has led to another. But we can’t dwell on it, we need to rectify it.
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Claudio Ranieri remains in good spirits despite Leicester’s struggles
“People can say what they like about us, but we are still in the Champions League, still in the FA Cup and there’s more than one-third of the Premier League season left to play. So, whatever happens at Swansea, there are still quite a few games left.
“Obviously, we have not done as well as we would have liked. It’s not going to be the be-all and end-all of our season down there. But it is one we want to win.
“There’s a lot of football to be played between now and May. It’s the same with the Champions League. And the FA Cup. We’re still confident we can make something of the season.”
One major bright spot for Ranieri is the form of England Under-21 star Demarai Gray, who scored a superb solo goal against the Rams to book a fifth-round date with Millwall.
King added: “I guess Dimi has given the manager a headache – which is exactly what the gaffer would have wanted.
“Dimi can be as good as he wants. He’s a brilliant kid as well. He’s willing to learn and willing to listen. You can see he has natural ability and frightening speed.
“His main attribute is that he is grounded – a real level-headed lad and he listens to the manager and to the older players.
“He’s a young English player, playing in the Premier League and it’s hard sometimes for home-grown talent to get noticed.
“Dimi is doing a brilliant job. He was a snip at £3.7million from Birmingham – an absolute bargain.
“He’s waited for his chance. And he will get stronger and better with each year.
“If he keeps his feet on the ground, keeps listening and learning, he’ll turn into one of the biggest talents in the Premier League.”
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