Tuesday, 31 July 2012

City youth draw to York as pre-season continues

A Leicester City development squad featuring six senior professionals were unable to see-off a strong York City side in this afternoon's behind-closed-doors pre-season friendly.

Full back Tom Kennedy and goalkeeper Conrad Logan both completed a full ninety minutes, whilst Andy King, Marko Futacs and Matty James all featured alongside the recovering Jermaine Beckford.

Jacob Blythe, the latest addition to the Foxes youth side, was on target to level for the Foxes in the first half but York took a 1-2 lead into the break. Solid work by Kennedy allowed Beckford to glance home a late equaliser and the game finished all square at 2-2.

This game will act as a solid warm-up to tomorrow evening's away friendly at Burton Albion, with Beckford expected to feature in the first team squad for the first time this summer. Also anticipated to make a return to the Foxes' squad at the Pirelli Stadium is Euro 2012 star Sean St Ledger.

Despite strong pre-sales for tomorrow's friendly, the Brewers have agreed to allow City fans to purchase tickets on the gate for the match, which kicks-off at 7:45pm. Adult tickets start from £8 on the terraces.

City have also added to their pre-season schedule, with the announcement of a further friendly against Nuneaton Borough. A Foxes XI will visit Liberty Way for a 7:30pm kick-off next Tuesday, 7th August.

Monday, 30 July 2012

2011/12 Analysed: Player-by-Player - Part Two (Belated)

The 2010/11 season's disappointment yielded a bright future when Leicester City spent a record breaking £10-15 million on players over the summer. With those big names failing to deliver on their promise of Premier League promotion, many have come under criticism with the future of many now hanging in the balance. As we move on to look ahead to a bright new season, here is Part Two (Part One is here) of our examination of the performance of each and every player to feature in the first team squad over the 2011/12 nPower Championship campaign.

Beckford expected to depart Leicester

On the move: Jermaine Beckford in training
Leicester City striker Jermaine Beckford is expected to leave the club before the end of August, with sources close to the Foxes' camp indicating that the player has now been told that he is free to find another club.

With Beckford's career at the King Power Stadium making a faltering start - despite claiming the golden boot in last season's FA Cup he failed to excel in the league - there have been many vocal critics of the 28-year-old forward and it seems that Nigel Pearson may have lost patience with Sven Goran Eriksson's £4 million signing.

As reported here at the start of the close-season, Leeds United are most likely to capture their former front man, who scored on 72 occasions for the Elland Road side. Beckford accrued just nine league goals for Leicester in his 39 appearances and, despite a hat-trick in the FA Cup against rivals Nottingham Forest, has failed to find favour with the famously fickle Foxes' fans.

With Jamie Vardy and Marko Futacs both joining City this summer, adding to a bloated forward roster including David Nugent, Martyn Waghorn and Jeffrey Schlupp, it seems that Beckford's first team opportunities may be limited at Leicester in the short term anyway and a move by Pearson to offload a forward in order to strengthen other areas of the squad would not be beyond belief.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Foxes lose to Shrews but launch new keeper kit

Green: The new keeper kit
Black: Kasper Schmeichel
Leicester City launched their new goalkeepers' home and away strips yesterday and have announced that the club's 2012/13 away and third kits will go on sale on Saturday, 10th August.

The two goalkeeper kits - all-black at home and all-green away, with white and grey trim on both - are on sale from the club shop now and were worn by Kasper Schmeichel as he made his first pre-season friendly appearance as City went down as 2-0 losers to Shrewsbury Town yesterday afternoon.

Following what was a poor performance, Nigel Pearson admitted there is still work to do before his side are ready for the 2012/13 Championship campaign.

"I think Shrewsbury played pretty well but we were nowhere near the level that we should be," said the City manager, "They've scored a goal in each half - the first goal was a super finish. All in all we didn't really create enough opportunities today.

"When you look at the number of offensive players that we have it's particularly disappointing. In lots of ways I'm not happy that we've lost but it's certainly an exercise that I will take the positives out of in terms of how we now prioritise who gets games."

Indeed, with four of Pearson's new signings on show it was hardly surprising that City failed to impress themselves as a unit on a well-drilled Shrewsbury side. A cracking shot from Terry Gornell fizzed under Kasper Schmeichel to give the home side a first half lead that Leicester could not overcome. Even the addition of a new forward line in the second half - Jamie Vardy replaced Marko Futacs whilst Jeffrey Schlupp came on for David Nugent - could not break down the rigid Salopian defence.

City's best chance did present itself following some good work by debutant Richie de Laet out wide. Having blocked a shot on the line, he played-in Lloyd Dyer who should have done better against Shrews' goalkeeper Joe Anyon before the break.

Despite the combined efforts of a lively Schlupp and Vardy, Shrewsbury doubled their lead through Marvin Morgan and left Pearson seemingly with more questions that answers as the final whistle blew. Leicester's manager insists, however, that he learnt much from watching his team play.

"We learnt a lot today - it was a bit of a wakeup for one or two within the squad so it may turn out to be not a bad thing," said Pearson, "I'm not going to try and gloss over that because it was a very lacklustre performance. It gives you a better indicator so there's still a long way to go."

Friday, 27 July 2012

Knitters lose to Foxes in front of record crowd

Hinckley United were soundly beaten by a mixed-up Leicester City eleven when the Foxes travelled to the Knitters' Greene King Stadium earlier this week.

Of the first team, only Euro 2012 participants Kasper Schmeichel and Sean St Ledger, plus new signing Zak Whitbread and an unwell Jermaine Beckford, were not in Nigel Pearson's squad as the City manager opted to give a range of players 45 minutes each.

Andy King was on target for City but his early strike was cancelled-out by a superb free-kick from the Knitters' Phil Greene on the stroke of half time. A brighter Leicester team took control after the break, however, with David Nugent, Jamie Vardy and Ben Marshall wrapping-up a commanding 4-1 victory in front of a record Greene King Stadium crowd of 3,411.

Meanwhile, in one of the more bizarre events of Leicester City's recent history, former Prime Minister Tony Blair was presented with a Foxes' shirt by vice-Chairman Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn.

Number 10: Former PM Blair receives his City shirt with Susan Whelan
(Leicester City Chief Executive), Raksriaksorn and Keith Vaz MP.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Zak Whitbread linked with Leicester move

Former Norwich City defender Zak Whitbread is the latest footballer to be linked with a move to Leicester City.

Released by the Canaries at the end of last season, American-born Whitbread made 44 appearances for Norwich having joined them from Millwall in 2010. As a loanee at the New Den from Liverpool before signing with the Lions on a permanent basis, the 28-year-old made over 100 appearances for Millwall over five years with the club. He made 21 Premier League appearances for Liverpool between 2003-2006.

It has been suggested that Whitbread was with the Foxes' executives at the club's Belvoir Drive training ground during today's open training session, though this is unconfirmed by the club. The BBC's Ian Stringer believes that a deal is close to completion. Stringer confirmed via Twitter that Whitbread has completed a medical and only personal terms are yet to be agreed.

Foxes' Open Training Session: Picture Special

Leicester City today completed a first open training session at the King Power Stadium in front of a bumper crowd.

Kit launch: Some 5,000 fans packed the Family Stand this morning

Training: City's players are put through their paces

New boy: Jamie Vardy shares a joke
with new teammate Danny Drinkwater
Around 5,000 supporters flocked to the family stand to greet their heroes and watch Nigel Pearson's new men for the first time. Only Sean St Ledger - resting still after international duty - was not present and all but one of the Foxes' squad completed a full session of drills, games and shoot-outs in what seemed to be a well-spirited, light-hearted event.

Only new boy Richie de Laet failed to complete the full hour, citing later that a quadriceps niggle saw him sit-out the latter stages. Meanwhile, fellow newcomer Jamie Vardy impressed as he was sharp in the box and at ease with his new teammates.

For reaction from Nigel Pearson and more EXCLUSIVE images from the day, click here or 'Read more' below.

Fans flock to open training session

Leicester City supporters have arrived in their thousands at the King Power Stadium for the launch of their new 2012/13 home strip.

Some queued from 6am to be the first to get their hands on the new kit, whilst thousands lined Filbert Way eager to enter the stadium.

And Of Fosse and Foxes will host an exclusive picture special featuring images from this morning's session later today.

Friday, 20 July 2012

New Leicester City 2012/13 kit revealed

Royal blue: City's new Puma home kit
Leicester City's new home kit for the 2012/13 season has been revealed - thanks to the club erecting billboards prior to it's going on sale at 8am tomorrow morning.

Spotted by city fan Bert, who posted this picture to twitter, the kit is the first designed for the club by Puma and features the German sportswear company's trademark shoulder stripe in white, against an otherwise entirely royal blue shirt. City will wear white shorts with blue trim to accompany the new home shirt, with the socks apparently in the same royal blue as the shirt.

The new kit will be officially unveiled tomorrow when the first team train wearing it at an open training session at the King Power Stadium. Fans will be able to watch Nigel Pearson's men in action - including his four new signings Matty James, Richie de Laet, Jamie Vardy and Marko Futacs - from the family stand, with admission from 10:00-10:45am for an 11:00am start.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Pearson delighted with Futacs signing

Training: Futacs joined his new team-mates for
the first time yesterday and will appear at this
Saturday's open session at the King Power Stadium.
Marko Futacs has been unveiled as Leicester City's fourth signing of the close season and Nigel Pearson is delighted to have secured the striker's signature.

The 22-year-old Hungarian under-21 international penned a three-year deal at the King Power Stadium yesterday and the City manager was quick to talk up the young forward's prospects at the club.

"Marko has only been in English football for a year, but has shown all of the physical and mental attributes to be successful at this level and we are delighted to have added him to the squad," said Pearson, "He is another player we faced considerable competition to sign, which only serves to highlight how impressively he performed for Portsmouth last season."

Futacs scored five goals for Pompey during his first season in English football, having joined them on a one-year deal after a two year spell with German outfit Werder Bremen. Prior to that, Futacs was on the books of AS Nancy as a youth team player, although he never appeared for the French side.

Futacs may be well-travelled, but in doing so he has gathered a wealth of experience and, at 6'5", his height could be a key asset to City's chances this coming season.

"His height naturally offers some variety to our attacking options," added Pearson, "But he is a very gifted player whose technical strengths should not be underestimated."

Morgan handed skipper's armband

Nigel Pearson had revealed his new captain for the 2012/13 season as defender Wes Morgan.

Having joined Leicester City in January last season from rivals Nottingham Forest, Morgan starts his first full season with the Foxes next month and will do so wearing the skipper's armband.

Pearson is pleased to have revealed Morgan as captain and explained why he has chosen Morgan - veteran of over 450 league games - to lead City's promotion posh next term.

"Wes has shown great leadership qualities throughout his career and his experience and strength of character have been real assets to the squad since he joined us in January," said Pearson, "As well as being an exceptional player, he is an individual everybody in the squad respects greatly and a very good communicator on the pitch. I am sure he will thrive on the responsibility of leading the team next season."

Morgan was honoured to be handed the role.

"It's a tremendous honour and something I'm extremely proud to be asked to do, because there are a number of my team mates that would be just as capable of doing the job," the Foxes' new captain said, "I'm fortunate that I'm part of a talented squad that is full of leaders and big characters, which should stand us in good stead as a group for the new season."

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Of Fosse and Foxes' Notes No.2

The second edition of Of Fosse and Foxes notes is now available to download. This edition discusses the new options Nigel Pearson has up front - including the latest on new signing Marko Futacs - plus the excitement that is building towards Leicester City's new kit release.

Remember, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes by clicking here or by copying this link into your favourite feed aggregator.

Futacs is fourth arrival at King Power Stadium

Hungarian forward Marko Futacs has become Nigel Pearson's fourth signing of the season and is set to be unveiled as a Leicester City player on Monday.

The 22-year-old striker has agreed personal terms with the club, according to the Leicester Mercury, and will be announced as the Foxes' latest signing once his registration is completed with the Football League.

At 6'5", Futacs far exceeds the height of any other player on City's books and he will bolster the Foxes' attacking options, following the departure of Steve Howard who joined Hartlepool United yesterday, having been released by Leicester at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, City have offered a trial to former Dundee United goalkeeper Dusan Pernis. The Foxes have only three goalkeepers on their books at present following the departure of Chris Weale and Pearson is keen to offer some competition to number one Kasper Schmeichel.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Leicester favourites in Futacs talks

Former Portsmouth striker Marko Futacs is the latest player to be linked with a move to the King Power Stadium, with a deal set to be completed within 48 hours, Of Fosse and Foxes understands.

Target man Futacs scored five goals - including one against the Foxes - during a year with Pompey, having signed on a season-long deal from Werder Bremen last summer. With the relegated South coast side unable to offer the 22-year-old a new contract, Futacs is available as a free agent and has attracted a number of clubs.

Fellow Championship clubs Watford and Barnsley are also tracking the Hungarian under-21 international but as current league title favourites - and some funds available - City could be the most attractive option for the player.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Leicester City kit launch at open training session

Leicester City will unveil their 2012/13 home kit when the club opens its doors for an open training session in a week's time.

Entry to the training session - which will see new signings Jamie Vardy, Matty James and Richie de Laet on public show for the first time - is free. The session kicks-off at 10am on Saturday, 21st July at the King Power Stadium, with the new kit on sale from 8am the same morning.

The new home kit is the first to be released under a new supply deal with Puma, supporters of European Championship finalists Italy and Premier League side Newcastle United amongst others across the globe.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Foxes return to training and offer glimpse of new kit

Warming-up: new Foxes striker Jamie Vardy
Leicester City returned to training today and did so wearing a new Puma training kit that offers a glimpse of the new 2012/13 kit and squad numbers.

Wearing number 9, new signing Jamie Vardy took part in a bleep test session with fellow front-men Jermaine Beckford, David Nugent and Jeffrey Schlupp before Beckford joined Neil Danns is a light-hearted session at the club's Belvoir Drive training ground later on.

Manager Nigel Pearson spoke for the first time about his new striker, stating that amongst competition it was "great" to capture the former Halifax and Fleetwood Town man.

"It's great to have him," said the City boss, "He's got lots of energy and will hopefully give us a lot of goals as well. The strengths that these new players have is that they are young, they've got desire, and they want to play for us.

"I think it's really important that players have made that decision to come here and further their careers, because we want a good season and want promotion," added Pearson, who took the opportunity for the first time to talk to the media about the upcoming Championship campaign: "People have already put a lot of added expectation from the outside, which is in some ways a complement, but we have to go out there and produce it for ourselves - it's as simple as that."

City's players wore a deep blue training kit (as modelled by Vardy, left) with the coaches kitted-out in a navy blue alternative. The trend towards a block-colour throughout the training shirts, shorts and socks suggests that Leicester may play in all-blue at home this season in a throwback to the successful mid-1990s period.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Pearson rebuffed by Bruce over Hull players

Faked: City fans were not fooled after this image of James
Chester signing for Peterborough in 2009 was re-posted today
Nigel Pearson's advances to sign young Hull City trio James Chester, Cameron Stewart and Liam Rosenior have hit a new snag after Tigers' manager Steve Bruce re-stated his intentions to hold on to his best young talent.

"We've had four or five enquiries I'm told, but no bids," said Bruce, "If there's anyone serious they'll come and knock on my door. The one thing I don't want to do is lose my better players.

"I haven't come to sell my better players, I've come to have a good crack at getting where we want to be. Whether that's this year or next year, we've got to try and get in that big league if we can. You can't do that by selling your best players so we'll be doing our utmost to keep our better players."

Pearson's Leicester City have been heavily linked once again with James Chester following the move of Matt Mills to Bolton Wanderers earlier in the week but Bruce insists he is yet to hear from the Foxes' boss.

"I've not spoken with Nigel and I'd have thought if there's anything at all, he'd call me," Bruce added, "I've seen all the speculation in the papers and on the TV but I've had no contact with Nigel, who's someone I've known for a long time. Any interest would be met with a firm 'no' because they're not for sale."

Meanwhile, Cameron Stewart has himself stated that he has no ambition to leave Humberside in the near future. The Tigers' winger's form dipped in the latter half of the season following the rejection of two bids for the player from Leicester but 21-year-old Chester insists that his head was not turned.

"It was frustrating for me because people don't know me. That's not what I'm about. I never wanted to leave, I never asked to leave and I never asked for Leicester to put in a bid. It was all out of my control. Then it became a matter of me trying too hard or over-thinking things when people were on my back. Really, I should have just focused on my football and not on other people.

"I've heard rumours floating around different websites and newspapers, but I'm only concentrating on Hull City. I've got two years left here and I'm really happy. I've got no intentions of going anywhere else."

Friday, 6 July 2012

Beckford next on exit list?

Jermaine Beckford could be the next man to leave the King Power Stadium, if rumours tonight are to be believed.

Sources close to Leicester City have suggested that the former Everton and Leeds United striker could be placed on the Foxes' transfer list, whilst others have suggested that his contract may be cancelled.

Beckford had failed to find favour with City fans since his deadline-day move from the Toffees last summer, despite an heroic hat trick against Forest in the FA Cup in January. Indeed, he win last season's golden boot in that tournament and the striker's 9 goals in all competitions put him amongst City's top scorers last term.

Nonetheless, Beckford's future in the East Midlands remains uncertain with these rumours undenied by the club.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Terms agreed for Mills' Bolton move

Matt Mills has agreed terms with Bolton Wanderers and is no longer a Leicester City player.

Following earlier speculation that a deal for the 25-year-old was close, the two clubs agreed an undisclosed fee for the defender and Mills has now signed a three-year deal with the Lancashire outfit.

Mills made 31 appearances for the Foxes after his record-breaking move from Reading a year ago. Skipper of the Royals' play-off final side, his price tag and reputation promised much but Mills failed to deliver, sloppy performances on the pitch and a reported argumentative nature off it making him anything but a favourite with the fans.

With Sol Bamba also departed, Nigel Pearson now has a defensive headache and is set to up his chase for Hull City's James Chester in a bid to go some way towards shoring-up last season's leaky defence.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Bolton close to Matt Mills deal

Bolton Wanderers are on the verge of signing out-of-favour Leicester City defender Matt Mills, according to BBC Sport.

Mills has not featured for the Foxes since February, following a dramatic row with manager Nigel Pearson amid increased competition in defence. Mills was signed by Sven Goran Eriksson a year ago to lead City's back line but never managed to live up to his reputation. After Pearson signed Wes Morgan in January, Mills' chances were limited and he became frustrated having lost the club captaincy.

25-year-old Mills is set to sign a permanent deal with Bolton but Leicester are unlikely to recoup the fee - approaching £5 million - they paid for the centre half twelve months ago.

Pearson has already lost defender Sol Bamba to Turkish side Trabzonspor and is known to be keen on signing Hull City's James Chester as a replacement. Pearson knows Chester well, having managed the centre half during his spell with the Tigers.