Leicester City need a fox in the box

Striker Emile Heskey became a fans' favourite during his five years with the Midlands club. Picture: Getty
Striker Emile Heskey became a fans' favourite during his five years with the Midlands club. Picture: Getty
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What Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson would give for a Tony Cottee, Steve Claridge or Emile Heskey right now – the club’s strikers of Premier League yore with a predatory eye for goal.

When Leicester put five goals past a startled Manchester United on a heady Sunday in late September, mounting a barnstorming comeback from 3-1 down for an unlikely 5-3 home triumph, the Foxes looked like they belonged back in the elite.

But their first season back in England’s top flight since demotion in 2004 has since turned sour.

They are mired in the relegation zone with ten points from 12 games, a point from the safety zone and only two above bottom-side Queens Park Rangers who they visit this weekend.

You do not have to look too hard to see why – the goals have dried up.

Since giving United’s backline nightmares at the King Power Stadium, City have scored twice in seven winless games – both coming in the 2-2 draw against Burnley.


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Tellingly, neither was scored by a striker and, while the goals flowed in City’s march to the Championship title, the lack of firepower has given Pearson a big headache.

Such are Leicester’s striking woes that he could be tempted to call on veteran Heskey, who made 196 appearances and scored 46 goals for City between 1995 and 2000 in what fans look back on as a “golden era” under Martin O’Neill.

At 36, age should certainly be no concern to Pearson, who signed 40-year-old frontman Kevin Phillips in January and who played a part in Leicester’s run to the second-tier title.

Former England international Heskey, who is playing an ambassadorial role for City since leaving Australia’s Newcastle Jets, said he would be ready should Pearson call.

“It goes without saying, I’d love to come,” Heskey said.

“It is a great club that allowed me to get to the platform that I got to. I was an England international when I was with Leicester so that was a great achievement.”

For now, the Leicester management are likely to keep faith with big-money signing Leonardo Ulloa, the Argentine who scored five goals in his first five games but has fired blanks since.

If Ulloa has cooled since his flying start, Leicester’s other frontmen have fared worse, the trio of David Nugent, Jamie Vardy and Chris Wood contributing three goals so far this term.

After defeats by Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and Southampton, City were again punchless in a 0-0 stalemate with Sunderland on Saturday.

Pearson will hope that miserable run ends when City travel to fellow strugglers QPR on Saturday.


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