Jamie Vardy return fails to inspire Leicester in Aston Villa stalemate

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Jamie Vardy’s return failed to inspire Leicester to victory as they were held to a drab goalless draw by Aston Villa.

The striker made just his second appearance since December after hamstring and knee injuries in a 0-0 stalemate at the King Power Stadium.

Yet Vardy’s comeback as a second-half substitute still offers a huge boost ahead of the Foxes’ Europa Conference League semi-final first leg against Roma on Thursday.

That they emerged unscathed and earned a point from a bruising but forgettable encounter will be a comfort, with Jose Mourinho’s side arriving next week.

Battling Villa, 15th in the table, at least ended a run of four straight defeats and had the best chances, Leon Bailey firing over and Tyrone Mings getting a header all wrong, but they were no better than the Foxes in a tight game.

Steven Gerrard’s side squandered the game’s biggest opening early on when Wesley Fofana’s poor header let in Ollie Watkins and he centred for Bailey to blaze over.

Watkins also shot straight at Kasper Schmeichel from distance but, despite Villa’s two chances, Leicester – who sit 10th in the Premier League – were the aggressors.

They tried to pin Villa back at times but the visitors, on the back of their poor run, were more determined than in their recent losses.

Both sides were loose with possession, Patson Daka failing to capitalise after being gifted the ball by John McGinn, which contributed to a stilted half which never really got going.

James Maddison’s free-kick briefly had Emi Martinez concerned but despite edging the first half, Leicester never tested the goalkeeper.

Villa emerged for the second with renewed purpose and Mings’ miscued header from five yards saw them blow an early chance.

Watkins’ angled drive was then shovelled behind by Schmeichel but, after that, there was little to suggest anyone would break the deadlock.

It was a battle, Villa championed by McGinn and Leicester spurred on by Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, and little to separate the sides.

Vardy was finally summoned from the bench with 20 minutes to go after six weeks out with a knee injury.

His presence immediately lifted the hosts and Villa replaced the ineffective Philippe Coutinho with Emi Buendia but could not find any extra edge.

Maddison’s free-kick brought a good save from Martinez but a winner never came.

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