Enzo Maresca

Maresca On Sheff Weds & Maintaining Focus

Manager Enzo Maresca is keen to ensure players are driving high standards through the busy schedule approaching ahead of Christmas.
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The festive period brings a stack of Sky Bet Championship fixtures for Leicester City and another midweek match is in prospect at Hillsborough on Wednesday evening as the Foxes travel to face Sheffield Wednesday in a 7:45pm GMT kick-off. It’s a game Maresca previewed in Tuesday's pre-match press conference from LCFC Training Ground…

The Sheff Weds challenge

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Danny Röhl

A thumbs up from the new man in at Hillsborough.

Since appointing new manager Danny Röhl in October, the Owls have picked up their first win of the campaign but remain rooted to the foot of the table, 10 points from safety, with seemingly a lot of work to do to climb out of trouble.

In some ways, then, it can be seen as a free hit for the hosts, who will be underdogs against the league leaders but have the benefit of home support behind them, as fellow strugglers Queens Park Rangers did in a narrow 2-1 triumph for the Foxes earlier this term. 

“It’s exactly the same as I said before QPR,” Maresca told reporters. “For them, it’s the perfect day because beating us can solve at least some problems. If you remember the QPR game, how difficult it was, tomorrow will be the same.

“They have changed the dynamic completely with the new manager since he arrived, in the way they behave. Before they were waiting a little bit more, now they are very aggressive, high pressing. So, it will be a very tough game for sure, 100 per cent.

“I think with the new manager they have played six or seven games and they have changed the shape three of four times, so it’s very difficult to know how they will play against us to be honest. We need to be able to adapt very quickly to the game.

“For us it’s the worst game in this moment because for them it could be the game of a rebuild and, from this game, they could start something important. We need to be ready.”

Competition for places

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Abdul Fatawu & Kelechi Iheanacho

Remaining top of the pile following Saturday’s win over Watford.

With players coming back into contention over recent weeks – the likes of Dennis Praet and Tom Cannon now fully fit and ready for action – Maresca assured that everyone will get their chance to shine, especially given the run of fixtures in a short space of time.

“It’s a little bit difficult to plan minutes for players because you can think to give them some minutes in one week,” the 43-year-old said. “But they might not be 100 per cent fit or the other players that play in that position are better.

“It’s quite an easy process when we’re seeing all of them going in one direction. Even if they are out of the first XI, they understand the most important thing is the team. Some games they can play from the start, some games they can be on the bench.

“But in the end, because the season is so long, they’re all going to play games and have minutes. Sometimes it’s difficult because you have doubts but also because they are working very good and properly, so it’s not difficult.

“For all of them, they know they are not allowed to drop anything. When we drop off, they know that is something that I absolutely do not like. The way we behave, in terms of attitude day by day, I want all of them to be focused.

“I understand that when you don’t play it’s difficult, but it is what it is. It’s a matter of being patient and, in the end, you will get your chance.”

Developing youngsters  

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Wanya Marçal

Players must bide their time for chances to shine, Maresca says.

Academy graduates Wanya Marçal and Ben Nelson have made an impression for Maresca’s side this term, the former earning a first start and goal in the league, with centre-back Nelson debuting in the Carabao Cup, a sign of the work undertaken throughout the Club to produce players ready for First Team action. 

The former Manchester City coach continued: “Wanya started with us, played some games from the start, but also if you remember part of the season where we didn’t have our wingers, you saw him score goals and did well. He played another two games from the start.

“I really like Ben. I think it’s good for him to be around us. But it’s another young player who needs to be patient. We have Harry [Souttar], Jannik [Vestergaard], Wout [Faes], Conor [Coady] and we are using JJ (James Justin) there. But at the moment there is no plan, we will see.”

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