fbpx Skip to main content

Dean Smith defended his under-fire Leicester players as they fight for their Premier League lives.

The Foxes go to Newcastle on Monday knowing their top-flight future hangs in the balance as they sit two points from safety with two games left.

If Everton win at Wolves and Nottingham Forest avoid defeat against Arsenal over the weekend Leicester will need to win at St James’ Park or they will go down.

The squad – with one win in their last 14 games – has been accused of lacking fight in their relegation battle but Smith has given them his support.

“I don’t need to pay homage to the players, I’ve inherited a squad and not brought any of them in,” said the boss, who saw the Foxes limply lose 3-0 to Liverpool on Monday.

“I can openly criticise them if I need to, I don’t think I need to and I choose not to because the work ethic I see is there.

“The numbers I get from my performance department prove to me it’s there. The thing which is missing is keeping clean sheets and making fewer mistakes in the defensive third.

“It’s out of our hands because if other teams get the results there’s nothing we can do. We just have to concentrate on Newcastle and get the win.

“If we get the performance we are capable of and minimise mistakes, not a problem.

“We are in a position we don’t want to be in. Our job is to get out of it. Our job hasn’t changed from eight games (when he came in) to two games.

“If you look at it realistically it was going to be tough to get points from Manchester City and Liverpool. Other games we would have expected to get points.”

Kelechi Iheanacho (groin) and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (ankle) are expected to resume training on Saturday after missing the Liverpool defeat while Caglar Soyuncu (hamstring) and Danny Ward (dislocated finger) remain out.

It is a fourth straight Monday game – meaning Leicester will know all the results before they play – but Smith insisted other scorelines will not impact his approach.

He added: “We’re preparing for Newcastle now, I don’t want to suddenly change tactics with what we’ve been working on for four or five days.”