Leicester City will be without seven players for their last Europa League group encounter against Napoli on Thursday after Nigeria international Kelechi Iheanacho, Ademola Lookman, and Ayoze Perez as well as four other players and three members of staff failed to make the trip to Italy.
According to manager Brendan Rodgers, some players and personnel were not in the delegation to Naples because they contracted the virus.
In other news, however, he announced that Youri Tielemans will be available as well as Ryan Bertrand who had been out for about a week will also play a part in the game.
“We’ll be down to seven people. That is something you will notice over time. It’s been a few days, to be honest. A few more cases are beginning to emerge. It’s about our players’ health, and we have to respect the journey time to Italy. We’ve still got a good team here. It’s just that this isn’t a totally fit team,”Rodgers said.
With only two points separating the four teams in Group C, Leicester knows that a win in Naples will guarantee their participation in the competition’s last 16.
Even though Napoli only has 14 fit players, Rodgers expects a stiff test from them. Kalidou Koulibaly, Victor Osimhen, Lorenzo Insigne, and Fabian Ruiz are all injured and will miss the rest of the season.
“You can see from the score lines that it was a challenging group,” he continued. “Napoli has a lot of big-game experience. I like the Manager, and he has a lot of expertise. He’s done a fantastic job. We recognize the difficulty we face. To accomplish the result we desire here, we need to be at our best.”
The strength of character in Napoli’s injury-ravaged squad will be determined in the group match, according to coach Luciano Spalletti in a pre-match press conference.
He said: “All matches are significant and decisive but we didn’t treat them that way, which is why we’re in this predicament. The distinction is that this one is truly crucial. These kinds of games show what a player is capable of doing. There is no margin for error at this stage. It’s a game changer.”
All four teams in the group have a mathematical chance of going through to the next stage of the competition but leaders Leicester will go through with a solitary point though they may cede the top spot to Spartak Moscow should the Russians win at Legia Warszawa.