Leicester manager Nigel Pearson knows plenty of hard work still lies ahead as his side look to retain their Premier League status.
Five wins in the last six matches has lifted the Foxes out of the drop zone, with three games remaining.
Only a couple of months ago, Pearson’s men were bottom of the table and being written off. Leicester host Southampton on Saturday and then face fixtures against relegation rivals Sunderland and QPR. Pearson, nominated for the April manager of the month award on the back of his side’s upturn in form, has warned his players that the job is not done yet.
“I’m pleased with how we’ve played, but there’s a lot of hard work left - it’s not done, not at all” the Foxes boss said. “Of course it helps when things go your way elsewhere, but you can’t bank on that. We can’t leave the field with regrets.’’
Meanwhile, Pearson, who was at Sheffield Wednesday from 1987–1994, refused to be drawn on speculation linking winger Anthony Knockaert with a switch to Belgian club Standard Liege. The 23-year-old has been out of favour this season but his stock is still high in Europe after making 42 appearances and scoring five goals during last year’s Championship-winning campaign. Knockaert’s contract expires in the summer and Standard Liege are confident of luring him away despite the Leicester hierarchy hoping he will sign a new deal until 2017.
Knockaert joined Leicester from French side Guingamp in 2012 but he has made just nine Premier League appearances this term - and none since mid-January.
When asked about talk of the player leaving, Pearson responded: ‘“I have heard the speculation but I can’t confirm it because the club have had no formal confirmation on that. That’s all I can say on that.” Leicester have been handed a boost ahead of the weekend with David Nugent back in the reckoning after a calf problem.
Only midfielder Andy King will definitely be missing because of a hamstring injury, while both Jamie Vardy and Marcin Wasilewski should play despite foot problems.
Leonardo Ulloa is also okay to play despite having an ankle issue.
“I would rule Andy King out but he has made very good progress” Pearson said. “He has done quite a bit of training with the group. If circumstances were slightly different then there would be a chance of maybe him being involved.
“He is an important player for us so we don’t feel it is in anyone’s interest to push him too much at this stage, so we’ll rule him out just on that basis. Everybody else really looks like they’ll be available for the weekend. Nugent is back into the reckoning which is a big plus for us.
“With Vardy it’s a similar sort of situation as it’s been for a few weeks. We’re trying to manage the load. We’ve had a free week so it’s given us a bit of time to give him a bit more of a rest. He’ll go into the preparation for the game in the same way that he has for the last few games.
“Ulloa is training. We’ve had a few bumps and bruises, but nothing that’s not manageable.‘’With Marcin, we could afford to take him off last week because we were in a pretty strong position during last week’s game. It’s always preferable if you can do that during games to protect players. Again, he’s available.”