- Holders Leicester City are safely into the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup
- The Foxes secured a 4-1 win over Watford in the third round at King Power Stadium on Saturday
- Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Marc Albrighton found the net
- Manager Brendan Rodgers praised the determination on show from his side
With numbers extremely short, due to injury, illness or international duty, the Foxes' line-up included nine changes from the 1-0 Premier League win over Liverpool on 28 December. Goals from Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Marc Albrighton nonetheless secured a victory.
Three Academy stars also made debuts for the Club – with Lewis Brunt starting and Wanya Marcal-Madivadua and 16-year-old Will Alves coming off the bench – as absences offered opportunities to others. After watching his holders secure safe passage, Rodgers was delighted by the display.
"A really fantastic result and performance," the Northern Irishman told LCFC TV. "We’re into the next round. We would love to [emulate the success last season]. Once you’ve won the FA Cup – and we all had that feeling – it’s great for us to dream and we’ll dream again of getting there this year.
"There’s so many top teams in it, but we’re into the next round and that’s important."
Rodgers admits, across his 14-year managerial career, he's never encountered a situation like this, with so many players unavailable for selection. The Foxes, though, battled through against Claudio Ranieri's Watford, a tough opponent in such circumstances at this stage of the FA Cup.
"No, never," he said, when asked if he can recall a similar circumstance. "It’s a unique situation, with COVID, it’s just really unfortunate. We’re suffering so many injuries. Lots of the other teams are as well, but of course our squad’s maybe not as deep as others. Especially in this period.
"With COVID, you’re starting to see that in our squad… players are out and then you couldn’t rest others.
"Players are being overtaxed and then you’re coming into a busy period where you’re having to play young players like Luke Thomas and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall in games at Liverpool and Man City back-to-back. It’s great, but there’s a cost to that, and that’s why they’re not playing today.
"We’ve never had [this before] but we’ll get through it and days like today make it worthwhile when the young players play."
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