Barnes is proving his Premier League quality – Leicester boss Rodgers
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers believes talented midfielder Harvey Barnes is finally beginning to find his feet in the Premier League.
Barnes produced what Rodgers claimed was his “best game” since the Northern Irishman took charge at the King Power Stadium nearly 11 months ago in Wednesday night’s 4-1 demolition of West Ham.
The 22-year-old’s third goal in four games opened the scoring before he supplied a stunning delivery for the second that Ricardo Pereira finished with a rasping strike on the stroke of half-time.
After previously scoring goals in loan spells at MK Dons, Barnsley and West Brom, Rodgers is now delighted to see Barnes step up to the plate in the top flight.
“I think his goal against Burnley (in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Turf Moor) has given him confidence because he showed in the Championship as a young player he has the ability to score goals,” said Rodgers.
“But now he’s improving, developing, he’s got power, he’s got speed, he can go either way, and he’s now getting and creating goals, so I’m really pleased for him.
“It was arguably his best game since I came in.”
Rodgers also reserved praise for defender Ben Chilwell, who was again back to his best against the Hammers.
Chilwell had come under fire from fans following a shocking performance in the 2-1 home defeat to Southampton earlier this month and then was omitted by Rodgers from the squad for the game with the Clarets after missing a training session last week.
But following another commanding performance, Rodgers said: “I thought he was brilliant.
“He was at the top of his game with his running power, defending, getting in contention with people, he served the ball and was hungry to get up and join in. I thought he had an outstanding game.”
The victory cemented Leicester’s third place in the table, and in conjunction with Manchester United’s shock 2-0 loss to Burnley at Old Trafford, the Foxes are now 14 points clear of the fifth-placed Reds.
Although Leicester are closing in on a top-four finish, and with it Champions League football for next season, Rodgers remains cautious.
“We’ll see where we’re at with 10 games to go,” said Rodgers. “There’s still a lot of football to be played, and a lot of points to play for, so you just play the points. There are still 14 games to go. A long, long way.”
With one point from the last three games, only goal difference now separates the Hammers from a place in the bottom three.
West Ham’s forthcoming fixtures are torrid as they play Liverpool home and away and Manchester City away in three of their next four league matches, leaving boss David Moyes hoping his side can pull something out of the bag.
“We have got a difficult few weeks,” said Moyes.
“The Premier League always throws up surprises and shock results, and we have to look to make one of those shocks happen.”