Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester side visit Ukraine in the Europa League on Thursday to face off with Zorya Luhansk. The Ukrainian side sit bottom of the group after four games having already lost to the Foxes on matchday one.
Having already qualified for the last 32, Leicester are expected to rest a number of key players ahead of the busy Christmas period, where Rodgers’ men take on some tough opponents including Manchester United and league leaders Tottenham.
Despite suffering a number of injuries to high-profile players, Leicester have maintained a decent standard across both the Premier League and the Europa League so far this campaign.
Though he’ll be keen to guarantee top spot in the group with a win against Zorya, Rodgers must see this as a good opportunity to rest some big names, and give game time to those returning to fitness. Ricardo Pereira, Wilfred Ndidi and Timothy Castagne are all in contention to make their first appearances in a while, with Pereira yet to play this season following a serious knee injury.
Here’s the Foxes side that should start on Thursday night…
Kasper Schmeichel (GK) – The great Dane has been ever-present for the Foxes this season, and has been as integral as ever. His shot stopping ability and immense distribution is invaluable to the the squad’s success.
Ricardo Pereira (RB) – Having not featured since before the first lockdown earlier this year, Rodgers will be overjoyed to have the Portuguese full-back available. He was incredible before his injury and will be keen to get back to that form.
Wes Morgan (CB) – While Morgan’s play time has diminished over the past few seasons, he’s always there when called upon. He’ll be very important across the busy winter schedule.
Jonny Evans (CB) – Despite some questionable performances of late, Evans is the kind of experienced head Leicester need to when they’re playing three games a week. He should start here.
Luke Thomas (LB) – A versatile full-back, Thomas is proving he is more than worthy of challenging for a first-team place going forward. Players like him give coaches those ‘good headaches’ we talk about. He’ll be keen to keep the momentum going here if selected.
Ayoze Perez (RM) – The Spaniard should start in this game, but really needs to impress if he is to get back into contention for the Foxes’ bigger clashes. Perhaps a victim of the system change with Rodgers swapping to a back three of later, but it’s up to Perez to give him a reason to play him.
Hamza Choudhury (CM) – Never shying away from a tackle, Choudhury’s tenacity is always something you can benefit from when playing 1,000 miles from home. The England Under-21 will be grateful for the game time, too.
Nampalys Mendy (CM) – Having featured in all of the Foxes’ games in the league this season, Mendy has become vital for Rodgers. He acts as a metronome for the side, keeping them ball moving and deciding the tempo of the game. He should boss a match like this.
Dennis Praet – (AM) – It appears Praet is enjoying life in England, especially now he has more licence to attack for his side. He’s more than justifying his £20m fee to fans and Rodgers alike.
Marc Albrighton – (LM) – Someone who needs no introduction. Not the most glamorous, nor the most prolific, but Marc Albrighton is a model professional and will never stop working for the team. He’ll be key to getting balls in the box in this one.
Kelechi Iheanacho (ST) – Having scored three in his last three in the Europa League, Iheanacho will be sure to start here.