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Saturday, 6th August 2011 Kick-off 15:00
Jewell Hoping For Positive End to Season at Leicester
Friday, 6th May 2011 14:31
Town boss Paul Jewell is looking for his side to end the season on as high a note as possible when they take on Leicester at the Walkers Stadium on Saturday (KO 12.45pm). Neither the Blues nor the Foxes have anything left to play for aside from positions in mid-table.
Even so, Jewell expects a difficult match with Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side impressive on their own turf: “It’s going to be a tough game. I think Leicester’s home form has been outstanding this season. It’s a game we want to get out of the way and then look forward to next season.
“Obviously, we want to get a good result, we want a good performance for the fans and I’m sure lots of them will travel again. But everything we do now is looking towards next season.”
The Blues boss says that prior to the recent back-to-back heavy defeats, he was pleased with his side’s progress: “We had two poor results against Norwich and Swansea which have clouded the end of the season a little bit.
“When you look back and reflect since January, the players have done really well to be comfortable and boring in mid-table.
“At one stage it looked as if we might get embroiled in a relegation battle but the lads have pulled themselves away from that and deserve great credit for it.
“It’s always been about making sure we stay in this league this season and, once we’d done that, looking forward to next season.”
Jewell is well aware of Leicester’s goalscoring threat: “They’ve got 20 goals in midfield from Andy King, then they’ve got Yakubu. I was reading a match report yesterday and they were bringing on the likes of Diomansy Kamara, Darius Vassell and Lloyd Dyer.
“They’ve got a lot of options up front and next season Leicester are going to be somewhere close to getting automatic promotion, which I would have thought is their goal.
“It’s going to be a tough game but other than the Swansea match, our away form has been good since I’ve been here.”
Jewell will weigh up whether to stick with one-time Leicester loanee Márton Fülöp in goal or bring in Brian Murphy for his first game under his management, the Irishman having recovered from the ankle injury he sustained just before Christmas.
Carlos Edwards will continue at right-back with Mark Kennedy at left-back, although 17-year-old Joe Whight may well get his debut as a sub at some point. Darren O’Dea has returned to Celtic due to his ankle injury.
Damien Delaney will be at the left of central defence with Gareth McAuley on the right if the Northern Irishman is considered fit enough after his groin injury. Otherwise, Troy Brown will continue.
If McAuley is involved, the Rangers-linked defender could be playing his final game for the Blues, coincidentally against the side he left to join Town in a £1.1 million deal in June 2008.
In midfield, skipper David Norris could also be representing Town for the final time before his expected free Bosman move to Crystal Palace, who targeted him in January, Wigan, Nottingham Forest, Leeds, Portsmouth or perhaps another as yet unnamed club. The former Plymouth man is likely to be on the right if Jewell again plays the 4-4-2 formation utilised against Preston last week.
In the centre, Jimmy Bullard will play the final game of his loan spell, although the Blues are already speaking to Hull regarding the 32-year-old returning to Portman Road for next season. Grant Leadbitter will play alongside Town’s Player of the Year with Josh Carson on the left. Lee Martin is available again after his suspension but will probably only be among the subs after his absence.
Jason Scotland will start up front alongside either Connor Wickham – if he’s over his rib injury – or Ronan Murray, who impressed during his first senior start last week.
For Leicester, Sven-Goran Eriksson could recall defenders Patrick van Aanholt, Bruno Berner and Julio Moreno, winger Lloyd Dyer or strikers Steve Howard and Diomansy Kamara. Foxes Player of the Year Richie Wellens is likely to be OK after a bout of tonsillitis earlier in the week.
Veteran midfielder Matt Oakley could be back after a groin problem, while Bulgarian defender Aleksandar Tunchev has been a sub in recent weeks after a serious knee injury.
Both Town’s centre-halves are ex-Leicester players, Gareth McAuley joining the Blues from Leicester in the summer of 2008, while the Foxes were Damien Delaney’s first English club. The then-Premiership side signed the Irishman from Cork City for £50,000 in 2000. Delaney made seven starts and three sub appearances before moving on to Hull City in 2002.
Keeper Márton Fülöp spent four months on loan at the Walkers Stadium at the start of the 2007/08 season when a Tottenham player, making 27 appearances. No current Foxes player has represented the Blues.
Town have had the upper hand historically, winning 26 games between the sides (26 in the league), drawing 17 (16) and losing 21 (19).
The sides last met at the Walkers Stadium in a live Sky game in January 2010 when the match ended 1-1. David Norris pressured Ryan McGivern into an own goal 20 seconds after the start with Steve Howard equalising for the Foxes before the break.
In December, first half goals from Jason Scotland (2) and David Norris saw Town to a 3-0 home victory over Leicester and ended a six-game league losing run.
Heavy snow started to fall around an hour before kick-off and continued throughout the game with the players taken off for a 14-minute spell in the second half while the pitch was cleared.
Police are warning fans to expect severe traffic congestion on Saturday with Leicester Tigers also in action. The Tigers take on London Irish at Welford Road from 3pm, shortly after the likely end of the football match. Many Leicester fans will be attending the game in fancy dress.
Saturday’s referee is Carl Boyeson from East Yorkshire, who has shown 73 yellow and four red cards in 28 games so far this season. Boyeson’s most recent Town match was the 2-1 win at Derby in February in which he booked Carlos Edwards and a Ram.
The central heating technician coincidentally took control of Leicester’s 2-0 victory over the Blues at Portman Road in February 2007 in which Gareth McAuley scored both Foxes goals and Town were reduced to 10 men when Owen Garvan was sent off for a two-footed tackle.
Squad from: Fülöp, Murphy, Edwards, Kennedy, Whight, Delaney, McAuley, Brown, Eastman, Norris, Bullard, Leadbitter, Healy, Drury, Peters, Carson, Martin, Civelli, Wickham, Scotland, Murray.
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