Accustomed to fighting for a place in the Champions League the last two seasons, Leicester has returned to the ranks.
Leicester may have won against Stade Rennais rather comfortably in the end but Brendan Rodgers’ side aren’t enjoying a great season.
Injuries, lack of success, a certain wear and tear after two failures on the wire, the Foxes have experienced many ills. However, the workforce of the Foxes remains very strong as evidenced by their win over Rennes in the Europa League Conference.
The Midlands club might go far in this competition but hopes of securing European qualification remain slim. They were eliminated from both domestic cup competitions and remain in 12th place in the league standings.
Ahead of the game, Rodgers was very much honest about his thoughts on the Europa League eague conference.
A festival of injuries and absences
And who can blame him?
Last summer, everything was great until August 4th, 2021 when during a friendly game against Villarreal, a Fer Nino foul on Wesley Fofana ruled out the youngster for the rest of the season. With a fractured fibula, Fofana was going to take his time.
However, the youngster made a rather swift recovery. But when his return seemed imminent, he tested positive for COVID-19.
This run of luck has forced the Leicester boss to experiment with his backline.
This season, veteran Jonny Evans also had his share of glitches with only 15 appearances, as did Dane Jannik Vestergaard who had to compensate for the injury to Wesley Fofana (19 appearances).
From then on, the two most used central defenders were a rather limited Daniel Amartey and the Turkish Çağlar Söyüncü who had a chaotic start to the season.
At the right-back position, Ricardo Pereira has also had his share of injuries this season (only 16 appearances) and James Justin is only returning from a long injury. Since the start of 2022, the Belgian Timothy Castagne has also been on the flank. Young Luke Thomas is one of the few guarantees while Ryan Bertrand quickly showed shortcomings.
If we add the long injury of Nampalys Mendy at the start of the season and the most recent of Jamie Vardy, as well as the departures of Mendy, Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi for the African Cup of Nations, we note that Leicester haven’t had a lot of success since the start of the season.
Patson Daka has ten goals in 25 games in his first season in England but the Zambian is far from settled.
Rare bright spots
But there are of course some bright spots here and there.
Youri Tielemans who is undoubtedly the tree that hides the forest, James Maddison is playing at a good level this season (12 goals and 7 assists in 36 matches) as is the young Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (23) who has finally made his mark in Brendan Rodgers’ group.
There are question marks over Brendan Rodgers future at Leicester. The Irishman has done a great job to be fair. However, the same team now seems to be going backwards. The Foxes are not even a mid-table club right now and results have to improve.
Of course it is too late to salvage a place in Europe but if they’re able to end the season on positive, he might still have a job in the summer.
Perhaps going all the way in the Conference League wouldn’t be a bad start!