For Leicester City football club, there is both good news and bad news. The good news is that their Nigerian midfield player, Wilfred Ndidi, has returned from his knee injury. Unfortunately, Jamie Vardy, the leading goal scorer in the Premier League with 17 goals to his name, picked up an injury in the Foxes’ recent game against West Ham.
Vardy has been a consistent top scorer in the Premier League for several seasons. Last season, he was ranked fourth in a survey of the Premier League’s most valuable goal scorers. The fact of the matter is that he is a real talisman for Leicester.
Brendan Rodgers, Leicester City manager, is said to be hoping that the injury is not too serious. At the time, it looked like a possible hamstring injury which would have been disastrous. But thankfully, that has now been ruled out. Rodgers is hoping that the striker won’t be out of action for more than a couple of weeks.
A more serious injury would have had grave consequences for the English national team too. At 32 years of age, Vardy had retired from international football. However, with severe injuries to both Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford, Gareth Southgate, the England manager, has had his attacking options limited. There is speculation that Vardy could be called back into action for his country in the upcoming fixtures.
Although it was sad to see Vardy substituted just before halftime in the game against West Ham, some good news did come out of it. Rodgers brought on another Nigerian player – Kelechi Iheanacho, Vardy’s 23-year-old understudy.
Before the start of the season, Iheanacho had been disappointing. When he was with Manchester City, he showed great promise. But ever since he came to the King Power Stadium, that promise failed to be realised. He has only scored seven goals in three seasons.
But, when he came on to replace Vardy in the match against the Hammers, he looked a different player and more like the 20-year-old Iheanacho who won those plaudits while at Man City. Vardy and his fine form have kept the young Nigerian on the substitutes’ bench for much of this season. However, in his ten appearances, he has scored six times.
Finding his form has meant that instead of being a peripheral figure in the squad, he has forced Brendan Rodgers to include him in his plans. The Nigerian says this season has been good so far. His hard preparation in preseason training is paying dividends. He remains philosophical, however, in saying that when chances present themselves, you have to step up to the mark.
That’s exactly what he did when he came on to replace Jamie Vardy, and if Vardy is out for two or three weeks, he will get the chance to establish himself in the starting line-up. His Nigerian compatriot, Wilfred Ndidi, has already become a highly valued member of the team.
If Iheanacho can emulate Ndidi, it will improve the Foxes’ chances of gaining that all-important Champions League football next season. It will also be a boost to their chances of success in this season’s Carabao and FA Cup competitions too.