Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has heaped plaudits on Kelechi Iheanacho for his professional conduct in training despite his bit part role in the team.
Iheanacho has struggled for regular playing time at the club since his arrival from Manchester City in 2017.
And Rodgers his impressed with the behaviour of the Nigerian in training and his understanding of the role he plays in support of Jamie Vardy
“He’s been the ultimate professional,” Rodgers declared.
“He’s never once come knocking on my door saying: ‘I should be playing more,’ or ‘I should be in the team’
“He’s a great team player who understands his position and his role, and if ever I need to pull him in and speak to him and chat, I’ll do that.
“He enjoys his life as a football player and that’s what I see every day.
“No (there’s no ego), not at all. He thinks about the team.
“I know strikers want to score goals and play games, that’s what they’re judged on. But I’ve emphasised his importance to the squad, whether he’s playing or not playing.”
Making cameos here and there is not ideal for building confidence as a striker and Iheanacho does seem to be a player who has bursts of good form.
Overall, though, Rodgers is pleased with his contribution. His strike against Brighton was his seventh of the season, meaning he is now level with Vardy for non-penalty goals this campaign.
In total over the last two seasons, he has averaged a goal or assist every 100 minutes he is on the pitch. For Vardy, it’s one goal involvement every 116 minutes.
Rodgers added: “I have empathy for Kel’s role, it’s not an easy role for him or any striker who’s coming in when you have someone of Jamie’s quality in front of them.
“But I think he’s been great, he’s had little spells when his confidence has been down, but we’ve always encouraged him and he’s been a joy to work with.
“He’s been a great understudy for us and, in the main, when he’s asked, he always gives his all and produces. I’ve been really pleased with his contribution.”
However, a more difficult test of his patience awaits the 24 year old Nigerian if the Foxes bring in a striker as they hope to, with Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard among the targets.
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