Football, Rugby, UFC, GAA
All free when you join eir Broadband
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri expects to rotate his starting eleven more often this season as the Foxes prepare for their first taste of Champions League football.
Ranieri gained the nickname 'The Tinkerman' during his four years at Chelsea between 2000 and 2004 for his tendency to change his team from week to week, but the Italian preferred a more settled starting eleven last season as he led the Foxes to a historic maiden league title.
But, with Leicester guaranteed at least six Champions League group games between September and December, Ranieri says he will rotate his players more often.
The Premier League champions signed teenage Poland winger Bartosz Kapustka, Spanish defender Luis Hernandez, Germany international goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler, Nice midfielder Papy Mendy and Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa over the summer, although only former CSKA Moscow striker Musa has played in the Champions League before.
"For this season I asked my owner to have a minimum of 22 players with the same level because I have to change something during the season," he said.
Ranieri says his players are likely to suffer mental rather than physical tiredness from the extra matches and extra travelling to Europe.
"It’s not so difficult for the fitness to manage 16 or 17 more matches, it’s mentally. When you play for the first time a team who play in the Champions League you lose a lot of mental energy," he continued.
"That is the real problem. You want to kill the opponent and be aggressive but it is difficult to recharge the batteries for a team that is playing in it for the first time. The big teams are used to playing in it, for us it is new. I must understand this modulation."
Ranieri, whose Leicester side take on FA Cup holders Manchester United in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday afternoon, says his side will also have to adjust to playing without the influential N'Golo Kante.
The French Euro 2016 midfielder signed for Chelsea last month after the 2015 champions met the £32m release clause in his contract.
"If Chelsea bought Kante, it’s because he played as two players last season," the former Roma and Juventus boss said.
"The referee counted 11 but we were 12. Now everybody must understand that there is no Kante, so we have to be more close, more attentive. They can do something extra.
"You remember last season I said that if one day Kante crosses the ball and scores with a header, it’s normal. Now we have to think different and close space quicker. We must be smarter."
In other Leicester news, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has signed a new five-year contract with the Premier League champions.
"I’m just buzzing and I can’t wait for the season to get started. It was a very easy decision," Schmeichel, who kept 15 clean sheets last season, told LCFC TV.
"It was a case of coming back after winning the Premier League and making sure that the hunger was the same within myself and the squad. I’ve come back absolutely convinced that this is the place for me to be.
"We’ve taken some massive steps and ever since I arrived it’s been fantastic. I’ve loved being here from minute one."
Setanta Sports is now eir Sport. We have 6 great channels of live sport including eir Sport 1 & 2 and all 4 BT Sport channels. The eir Sport pack is free to all eir broadband customers. To learn more about setting sport free visit www.eir.ie/sport .