- Brendan Rodgers says Leicester City have encountered no new injuries ahead of Thursday’s UEFA Europa League opener
- The Foxes welcome Zorya Luhansk to Leicester in Group G (8pm kick-off)
- Wilfred Ndidi (adductor), Çağlar Söyüncü (adductor), Ricardo Pereira (ACL) and Jamie Vardy (calf) are set to miss the clash with pre-existing injuries
- Rodgers also discusses the returns of James Maddison, Dennis Praet and Cengiz Ünder
The Foxes return to the European stage at Leicester City Stadium on Thursday in their first-ever competitive encounter with a Ukrainian outfit – Viktor Skrypnyk’s Zorya (8pm kick-off).
“It’s pretty much the same squad as before,” the Northern Irishman confirmed, speaking during Wednesday’s international virtual press conference at Belvoir Drive.
“Obviously the only one is Slimani, who is not in our European squad, so apart from that, it’s mostly all the lads that have been fit at this moment.”
James Maddison & Brendan Rodgers
Maddison has featured mostly from the bench for the Foxes so far this term.
“We’ve got a lot of improvements to make,” he continued. “In the West Ham game we lost, we weren’t at our level.
“The game against Aston Villa was a tight game and probably a fairer reflection would have been a draw. We need to nail down some details. If you can’t win it, we shouldn’t be losing that game on Sunday.
“Some elements of the performance was very good. It’s also about our creative players getting up to speed, fitness-wise.
“Like we’ve seen with James Maddison, he’s not quite there yet, but he’s in a process of getting fitter. Dennis Praet is another one who’s getting minutes and game time, so it’s just a process for us.
“The players are working ever so hard but we know we want to keep improving this season.
“Three wins was a very good start and it’s not nice when you lose, but you go away and analyse and that’s what we’ll do over the course of the season.”
Meanwhile, speaking after Sunday’s Premier League clash with Villa, the Foxes manager confirmed that Jamie Vardy will be absent on Thursday with a minor calf issue.
However, the 47-year-old is confident that Leicester retain the attacking quality to create opportunities against their Ukrainian Premier League visitors.
“We just have to find ways to be more creative and clinical,” he added. “It’s still very early into the season and players are still trying to find their fitness.
[Söyüncü has] gone to London to look at the extent of it and it’s a case of a decision between him and ourselves on whether it’s conservatively managed, or if he wants to have the operation.Brendan Rodgers
“Jamie is a huge miss for us. We have to work with what we have, but we go into each game with a confidence we can create and score goals and it’ll be no different tomorrow.”
Çağlar Söyüncü (adductor) is one player certain to miss Thursday’s fixture and Rodgers says the Club’s medical team are working closely with the Turkey star to determine the best course of action.
He explained: “He’s gone to London to look at the extent of it and it’s a case of a decision between him and ourselves on whether it’s conservatively managed, or if he wants to have the operation.
“The medical team are in discussions with the player and trying to find the best solution and we’ll see where we go from there.”
Cengiz Ünder, though, is building his football fitness and Rodgers revealed that the on-loan AS Roma winger will play an increased role for the Foxes in all competitions.
Ünder is gradually building football fitness after joining the Club on loan, says Rodgers.
“Just in terms of football fitness, he needed to get up to speed,” Rodgers told the media. “Now, he’s adapting to our work and, over the next few weeks, he’ll get some more game time.
“He looks good in training, but naturally it takes players a little bit of time, so I expect over the next few weeks his game time will be more than what it’s been.”
Rodgers believes the whole squad will need to be prepared, both physically and mentally, for what promises to be a taxing fixture schedule between now and Christmas.
Looking ahead to the succession of two-game weeks which lie ahead, he said: “It’s going to be a busy schedule, so prepare well and prepare to play every game.
“It’s something which is new for a lot of players, but when you have one game a week it’s like a holiday.
“When you go into European football, there’s a cost physically and mentally, but it’s what makes you as a player – getting that experience and getting that feeling of winning in Europe.”
All times BST.
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