Brendan Rodgers suggested that Leicester may seek to postpone Tuesday’s visit to Everton after reducing them to just eight senior outfield players for Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Watford.
He has been hit by injuries, positive coronavirus tests and Africa Cup of Nations call-ups to Fox in recent weeks.
They managed to put problems aside to begin the cup’s defense with a 4–1 win over former manager Claudio Ranieri’s Hornets in their third-round clash at King Power Stadium.
Yet with 17 players unavailable for various reasons, Leicester boss Rodgers is worried as he looks forward to games at Goodison Park, which has already been rearranged once after being postponed last month.
Rodgers said in an interview: “We have been boosted in terms of numbers and for the integrity of the competition, we will assess where we are.”
Invited at his post-match press conference to expand on that remark, Rodgers said: “You’ve seen for yourself the team and the team that we have. We’ll have to go in and assess it and see if the players are doing well.” Where are we in the matter. We will take it from there.”
Asked if an adjournment has been requested yet, he said: “We really just finished, so no.”
However, former Liverpool and Celtic boss Rodgers said the situation was the worst of its kind in his managerial career.
“I’ve never done this before,” said the Northern Irishman. “This is a unique situation.
“Covid, when it kicked off, was tough for us. The players were out and we couldn’t rest those who were playing, so they were overloaded. It’s great that some of them played but there was a cost to that.
“But it is a difficult situation for a lot of teams and it was a great pleasure to just focus on today. We have just started our dream of making a comeback at Wembley in a good way.”
Rodgers’ patched-up side, which had nine changes, included 20-year-old Vonte Daly-Campbell and 21-year-old debutant Lewis Brunt. There were also six inexperienced players on the bench, as well as comfortable goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Yet showing their own Seven Transformation against a Hornet side as they focused on their fight for exile, they were still very strong.
A Yori Tielemans penalty and a James Madison strike gave them a decent start, before Harvey Barnes and Mark Albrighton took the win after Joo Pedro’s reply.
Rodgers said: “Performance and results, I’m thrilled. The academy players did exceptionally well and it was a really good test against a Premier League team.
“It was a tough game for us, so I’m happy to play as well as we did.”
Rodgers was particularly impressed by Hamza Chowdhury in an unfamiliar central defensive role, comparing him to one of his old Liverpool charges, Javier Mascherano.
Rodgers said: “Hamza played in back three or back two in training, and played it very well, so I called him up and said, ‘You’re going to be the new Mascherano for Leicester’.
“I thought he was sensational in the game.”
Ranieri wasn’t too disappointed with the defeat, making it clear he sees the Premier League – and some crucial basement battles in the coming weeks – more important.
The Italian said: “The performance was good but my priority was to save some players because, for us, the rest of the season is very important.
“During the match we tried to do something good. We scored a goal to make it 2-1 and we had two or three chances. Maybe we have to shoot more, but in the end, Leicester shot, and scored.
“But it was good because we didn’t have any injured players and that’s very important.”