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English Premiership

Ranieri urges calm ahead of Copenhagen visit

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri speaks during a press conference at the King Power Stadium on October 17, 2016 © AFP / Justin Tallis

LEICESTER, United Kingdom, Oct 17Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri is not worried by the English champions’ poor domestic run and is confident they will rediscover their winning ways, he said on Monday.

The Foxes have won just twice in eight Premier League games and slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday, leaving them only two points above the relegation places.

But they have won their first two Champions League Group G games, ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Danish champions FC Copenhagen, and Ranieri says he has full faith in his misfiring team.

“Sometimes you can play well and sometimes not so well,” the 64-year-old Italian told his eve-of-match press conference.

“Like at Manchester United (where Leicester lost 4-1), the first half at Chelsea was no good, but in the second half we played very well. I am very confident with my team.

“They fight and last season we were more compact, but now everyone knows about us.

“Now we are in the balance, in the middle, and not as good as last season, but it’s normal for a team like Leicester.”

Leicester’s Danish international goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel concurred with Ranieri that there was no need to push the panic button.

“We’ve had to look at ourselves in the mirror and get back on it. It’s a massive test tomorrow,” said Schmeichel, who was born in Copenhagen.

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“It’s not a time to worry or panic. We come good in the middle of a season and really good towards the end. We’re working hard. It’ll come good –- I’m sure of that.

“I remember playing Tuesday nights in the Championship. We’ve come a long way and it’s important to remember that.”

– ‘Pray on their knees’ –

Copenhagen trail Leicester by two points ahead of their double-header against Ranieri’s men, having followed up a creditable 1-1 draw at Porto with a 4-0 thrashing of Club Brugge last time out.

Visiting coach Stale Solbakken, who previously worked in England with Wolverhampton Wanderers, says he is not holding too much store by Leicester’s domestic woes.

Leicester City’s goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel attends a press conference on October 17, 2016 © AFP / Justin Tallis

“I have seen all the Leicester games this season and their home performances have been quiet stable,” he told reporters at the King Power Stadium.

“Leicester had two good games in the Champions League so their confidence is OK.”

Algerian pair Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani are expected to return to Leicester’s starting XI, having both started on the bench at Chelsea.

But French midfielder Nampalys Mendy, sidelined since August, will be out for a further four to five weeks after undergoing ankle surgery on Monday.

Mendy’s absence has enabled Daniel Amartey to establish himself in central midfield.

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The Ghana international joined Leicester from Copenhagen in January and Solbakken believes he could go on to be as influential as the Foxes’ former player N’Golo Kante, who joined Chelsea in July.

“He had developed into a Premier League player,” said Solbakken, whose team are unbeaten in 23 matches in all competitions.

“He came here and Kante was playing in his best position, but in two years Leicester will pray on their knees he will sign another contract. He will go in that direction.”

Copenhagen are without forward Danny Amankwaa, who has a knee injury, and Denmark left-back Nicolai Boilesen, who is short of match fitness.

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