Marc Albrighton hopes Leicester have launched another Wembley charge after beginning their defence of the FA Cup with a convincing 4-1 win over Watford.
Despite missing a host of players through injury and international call-ups, the holders proved far too strong for former manager Claudio Ranieri’s side in their third-round tie at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
An early penalty from Youri Tielemans and a strike from James Maddison put the Foxes on course before Harvey Barnes and Albrighton, who captained the side, wrapped up victory after a Joao Pedro reply.
“We are here to retain the FA Cup,” Albrighton told LCFC TV. “I think that has got to be the aim.
“There is no point entering a competition and not wanting to go all the way. We have proved we can do it before and that is our first step to doing it again.”
Leicester were without 17 members of their squad for a variety of reasons and all eight of the remaining senior outfield players available started as manager Brendan Rodgers made nine, mostly enforced, changes.
The side was completed by 20-year-old Vontae Daley-Campbell and debutant Lewis Brunt, 21. Rested goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel aside, the bench comprised of six inexperienced players, three of whom in Wanya Marcal-Madivadua, Kasey McAteer and Will Alves appeared in the second half.
Albrighton said: “Like the manager said – he was proud after the Liverpool game when we won 1-0, but this was a different kind of pride with all the adversity and the week we have had, losing players most days.
“For the young lads, it is a fantastic opportunity, training with us and learning and stepping in and looking like they’ve been playing for years. It’s incredible to be part of such a fantastic team and squad effort.”
Watford did have some bright moments. Pedro’s effort came as a quickfire response to Maddison making it 2-0 while the Portuguese also hit the bar when the score was 3-1, soon after a brief delay for a floodlight failure.
The visitors also had a penalty appeal after Brunt clashed with Ashley Fletcher and Daley-Campbell was fortunate to avoid a second yellow card for a foul on Pedro.
Yet having made seven changes himself, Ranieri was simply happy enough to avoid further injuries ahead of some crucial relegation battles ahead.
The 17th-placed Hornets face Newcastle, Burnley and Norwich – the three sides below them – in their next three Premier League games.
Along with top scorer Emmanuel Dennis, new signings Hassane Kamara and Samir were not risked at Leicester and they could all now come into the reckoning.
Ranieri said: “Our focus now is on the next three matches. We need to be solid, compact and try to do our best, like we do every match.
“We are OK at this moment and I don’t think about other signings in the future. I am thinking about these players.
“We’ve bought these players to have another chance to fight together.”