Champions League the priority for Leicester, says boss Ranieri


Leicester City players during a team photo before their UEFA Champions League Group G match against FC Porto at the King Power Stadium in on September 27, 2016. Coach Claudio Ranieri says the team’s priority now is the Champions League. PHOTO: TIM KEETON/EPA

Leicester City have made the Champions League their priority because they have longer to improve their Premier League form, says manager Claudio Ranieri.

The Foxes face FC Copenhagen at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday, having won their first two Group G matches.

But the Premier League champions have taken just eight points from the first eight matches in their title defence.

“In the Premier League we must be safe at the end of the year. The Champions League is now,” said Ranieri.

“At this moment, it’s a priority.”

Ranieri’s men beat Club Brugge 3-0 in their opening Champions League match, before edging to a 1-0 victory over Porto.

Winger Riyad Mahrez and striker Islam Slimani are set to return to the starting line-up for the first of back-to-back games against FC Copenhagen.

Both players were substitutes for Saturday’s game against Chelsea, coming on 67 minutes into the 3-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Midfielder Nampalys Mendy remains out after a minor operation on an ankle injury which has kept him out since August.

Ranieri said Leicester’s matches against FC Copenhagen are “very important” and “will tell us what we can do in the Champions League”.

Leicester have already lost four league matches this season – one more than in the whole of last season.

“We want to improve but it’s normal when we start the season to have something to work on because new players have come and everything is new,” said Ranieri.

“Maybe we want to do something more but we are Leicester, we’re a good team and we have to show our qualities.

“We are getting better and have to be solid and strong and don’t make any pressure about relegation.”

England striker Jamie Vardy has scored three times in 12 matches for Leicester this season and is without a goal in his past seven appearances for the club.

At this stage last season, he had scored 11 goals.

“It’s important he stays calm, keeps his strength and he will score a goal,” added Ranieri.

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