He’s a huge influence: Brendan Rogers welcomes Jamie Vardy’s return to fitness

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Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers knows his side are better when Jamie Vardy is around.

The 35-year-old showed the Foxes just what they have been missing during his two-month injury absence when he grabbed a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win at Burnley in midweek.

It was his first appearance of 2022 after a hamstring injury and Rodgers, who described him as one of the “great Premier League strikers”, said he is raring to go against Leeds on Saturday.

“Whether he will last the whole game or not it remains to be seen,” Rodgers said. “But he’s fresh. We’ve missed that movement and that energy, that cuteness in the game.

“He’s a huge influence. He’s one of the Premier League’s great strikers. It makes you a better team. When you have Jamie in your team, you clearly are in a much better moment in terms of your confidence and leadership.

“He affected the game (at Burnley). It continues a much better performance from us as a team. We were aggressive in the game, played our football and got two wonderful goals.

“He’s a natural goalscorer. He works at his game. He’s very astute. He studies the game. He’s very clever, he picks up on things in his game.

“He’s sharp, he has a bright mind. He’s looking for ways to get in. He’s got a lovely soft finish if he has to.

“There’s no doubt he has been one of the world’s best over these last few years. He works tirelessly at his game and he has a hunger to keep proving a point.”

The Foxes welcome Leeds to the King Power Stadium on Saturday lunchtime as the Yorkshire club start life after Marcelo Bielsa.

Bielsa was sacked on Sunday following a 4-0 defeat to Tottenham and replaced by American Jesse Marsch.

Rodgers insists his side will still be well prepared.

“No, I don’t think there will be too much that we don’t know,” he said. “It takes time to put in place your ideas.

“They will be physically in good condition. They have talented players and some very good British players who have formed the foundation of their success.

“It will be more traditional. Jesse has said himself it will be more zonal pressure. There’s so much footage now so you have a good idea of how they will work. He will want to impose his own signature on the team.”

Rodgers also paid tribute to the departing Bielsa, adding: “Marcelo is a big loss to the Premier League, as much for the human qualities he showed.

“It’s a big loss for the city, he was a father figure. He was admired there and by managers. I spent some time with him while he was here.

“The game is a circus now but he brought old-school values. He was not taken in by everything that goes around the modern game. It was what football used to be like. He will be a loss.”

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