Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has praised ‘one of the greats’ in Jose Mourinho ahead of the clash against Roma and confirmed the return of an important player.
Leicester host Roma at the King Power on Thursday night in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final. Both teams have the opportunity to play in the inaugural competition’s first ever final.
Leicester have been held to draws in each of their last two Premier League matches. They drew 1-1 with Everton before completing a goalless stalemate with Aston Villa in their most recent outing.
However, Rodgers’ men should take some confidence into the match following their quarter-final win over PSV. James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira found the net in the second leg to send Leicester through.
They will come up against a Roma side – managed by Mourinho – who sit fifth in Serie A after winning 17 of their 34 league games.
Their top scorer is former Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham. And Rodgers is certain he is a ‘threat’.
Brendan Rodgers praises Mourinho, Abraham
“He’s done very well,” Rodgers said at the pre-match press conference (via Leicestershire Live). “If you look at his numbers, he’s done very well. It looks like a great decision.
“He’s one of a number of young British talents who have gone to Europe. Difficult to play as much as he wanted to at Chelsea.
“Different culture but he has shown up very well. He’s a threat and he knows the English game.”
On Mourinho, Rodgers added: “There’s a lot been said about Jose over many years, but he is such a special manager and one of the greats of our generation.
“When I look back at managers I have worked with, I tried to learn as much as I can. In 2004, Jose was the guy everyone wanted to be like.
“He came in as a European champion, it gave young coaches hope that they could have charisma.
“He had the X factor, he was just brilliant in so many aspects of the game.”
Rodgers went on to praise Mourinho’s man management skills and his tactics, before calling the Portuguese a ‘winner’.
Jamie Vardy ‘will be in the squad’
Influential striker Jamie Vardy made his return from a knee injury during the draw with Villa. When asked if he could start against Roma, Rodgers replied: “He’ll be in the squad. It’s the emotion of everyone.
“It’s important the aggression is there from the top of the field, if it’s Jamie or anyone else. It’s about the emotion in the crowd.”
Integral centre-back Jonny Evans is set to feature in the European clash after missing the most recent league game.
“Evans was just being rested, he’s available,” Rodgers said. “We need to defend well as a team and I’ve been happy with that over the past few weeks.
“Kasper [Schmeichel] and Jonny play a key role in that, but the whole team has to defend well and be cohesive.”