Pearson Backs Players To Perform

Leicester City Manager Nigel Pearson is backing his players to perform under pressure when they tackle Watford in the first leg of their npower Championship Play-Off Semi-Final on Thursday night.

A packed King Power Stadium is the venue for the fixture, with the winners over two legs booking their spot at Wembley to fight it out for a spot in next season’s Premier League.

The Foxes fired themselves into the play-offs in dramatic fashion on the final day of the regular season with a last-gasp 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest that will live long in the memories of the Blue Army, and the manager is hoping for more of the same against Gianfranco Zola’s Watford.

“I think every emotion you could experience, we went through,” recalled Pearson of the Forest victory, which lifted them into sixth after Bolton’s 2-2 draw with Blackpool.

“Performance wise it was very, very good and we gave ourselves a good chance of wining the game, albeit we conceded an early goal, which is not what we wanted to do.

“However the players really did perform well under pressure and that’s credit to them.

“I think the whole crowd were [aware of the Bolton score]. That can put extra pressure on the players, and they handled it well; in fact for the majority of the season the players have performed well under pressure.

“I’m pleased for them. Ultimately we all want the same thing – we all want success this season. The players should be looking at it as an opportunity for them as individuals and as a group to move forward.

“It’s been difficult at times, but the players have shown courage and that we are a very good team. We’ve given ourselves another chance and that’s the main thing. Now we’ve earned that extra chance we’ve got to make the most of it.”

And Pearson will know all about City’s play-off opponents, Watford, having been edged out 2-1 in City’s final home league game of the campaign in April.

However with City buoyed by their triumph at Forest, and Zola having to lift his side, who missed out on automatic promotion with a 2-1 defeat to Leeds in the last minute on Saturday, the fans will be hoping for a different outcome this time around.

Pearson was cautious though, adding: “It could be but it would be wrong to make that assumption. They’ve got an experienced manager and good players, and they’ll be thinking about being positive.

“I think with the way that Gianfranco works and with the quality of players that he’s got, they’ll deal with it (the loss to Leeds) and it’ll be a tough game, but they will be thinking that as well.

“Paul Konchesky is back outside after having a small hernia operation and he’s back in contention and I think both sides will be trying to be as positive as possible.”

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