Ranieri: Premier League refs must protect Vardy


Adamant Jamie Vardy will be a marked man this season, Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has urged Premier League referees to protect his star striker.

With a remarkable 24 goals last season, Vardy was talismanic as Leicester romped to the most unlikely of title victories.

But Ranieri believes his spearhead will now face a more cynical approach from the league's defenders.

"I hope the referees are more attentive and if there is something wrong they give penalties or free-kicks," Ranieri said.

"But he must stay calm because of course everyone wants to stop him."

Asked if he was worried Vardy would lose his cool and react if targeted, Ranieri replied: "No, he is an intelligent player.

"It is difficult to stop Jamie when he is in good shape or condition, but of course there are opponents and there will be tough matches."

Despite fears of Vardy coming under more vicious attention from opposition defences, Ranieri has faith in his team to pick up the offensive burden, particularly through the likes of Riyad Mahrez and recruit Ahmed Musa.

Coming from CSKA Moscow, where he scored 18 goals in all competitions last season, Musa displayed how his similarly incendiary pace to Vardy could cause problems in the Community Shield.

"It is important to have another player who can play in a similar way to Jamie," Ranieri said.

"Also Musa can play in a wide position, behind Jamie or alongside Jamie.

"It is important to have a good choice for me so I can choose the first XI line-up and also during the match I can read the match and maybe say, 'I need this kind of player or another'.

"My players must be ready to do what I expect."

Leicester begin their Premier League title defence against newly-promoted Hull City on Saturday.