Premier League waiting to hear if Leicester can play at home this weekend

The Premier League is waiting to hear whether Leicester will be able to play at home this weekend or for the foreseeable future after the city was placed under tougher restrictions due to a spike in coronavirus cases.

The Foxes are due to host Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium on Saturday but it is not yet clear whether, or where, the match will be played.

Non-essential shops will be closed from Tuesday after cases in the city accounted for 10 per cent of all nationwide positive tests over the past week.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says contingencies are in place to deal with localised lockdowns
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says contingencies are in place to deal with localised lockdowns (Mike Egerton/PA)

The planned easing of restrictions on Saturday, such as the reopening of pubs and restaurants, will not take place in the city, with people having been advised against all but essential travel.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the incident highlighted the fragility of the competition’s Project Restart plans, but said contingencies were in place for such an occurrence.

“We have had a huge dialogue with the authorities about the concept of neutral venues,” he told MPs at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee evidence session on Tuesday morning.

“If what is happening in Leicester – we’re waiting to hear – does affect the club’s ability to host home games – either the match on Saturday against Crystal Palace at 3pm – or subsequent matches, then we have the opportunity to put those matches elsewhere or postpone until a date when it is safe to do so.

“I’m yet to understand what the impact of the partial lockdown in Leicester is going to have on the club. But clearly it demonstrates the fragile project that we have on here. We can’t take it for granted.”

Masters said there was a risk of the season not being completed if there were multiple lockdowns like this, and he said: “It is all dependent on the course of the virus. We have shown our flexibility to that, but we have to operate within Government guidelines.”

Leicester take on Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday night, with concerns surrounding the form of striker Jamie Vardy.

Jamie Vardy is struggling for goals at the moment
Jamie Vardy is struggling for goals at the moment (Michael Regan/NMC Pool/PA)

The former England forward has scored only twice in his last 10 matches for the club stretching back to Boxing Day, but Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers says others must take responsibility for goalscoring as well.

“There is a lot of spotlight on Jamie but it is not just about the striker, it is the team’s contribution. That is something we need to improve,” Rodgers said.

“This is the responsibility of the team and it’s my responsibility to find ways we can get back to increasing our goalscoring. It’s the responsibility of everyone.

“I think we would want to give him more service but we are looking at ways to develop and get our wingers back to being involved, creating goals and scoring goals – and of course our midfield players.”

Leicester remain third in the table but now have just a one-point advantage over Chelsea after frustrating draws against Watford and Brighton since the restart.

The 2016 Premier League champions have a doubt over James Maddison, who missed the Chelsea loss in the FA Cup last weekend with a hip injury.

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