Brendan Rodgers vows to give Kelechi Iheanacho a chance in Premier League
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers will give FA Cup hero Kelechi Iheanacho his Premier League chance – after Jamie Vardy was ruled out for weeks.
Iheanacho, who has 17 goals in 23 FA Cup games, fired the Foxes into the fifth round with a 1-0 win at Walsall.
The League Two Saddlers pushed the 2021 winners and Youri Tielemans missed a penalty before Iheanacho’s deflected strike ended any hopes of an upset.
Iheanacho has started just once in the Premier League this season but now will be given a shot with Vardy suffering a gluteal injury in training.
Rodgers said: “He will get more game time with Vards out for a few weeks. It depends on the type of game we are looking to play.
“When he takes his chance he scores. He has made a great impact in the competition since I’ve been here.
“He has been first class, trains virtually every day and is very rarely injured. He sometimes starts games not so good, sometimes he is a little hit and miss but you know when he plays to a high level he is a threat.
“He came into the game with a real fire in his belly to perform and did really well. For a large part of my time here Vards has been our number one striker, we brought Patson (Daka) in who could replicate that and Kelechi is a fantastic link player for us.”
Hard-working Walsall ensured Leicester knew they were in a game during a combative first half.
Yet the Saddlers were unable to make a breakthrough when it mattered most. Daniel Iversen turned Tom Knowles’ low effort away but despite their huff and puff that was as good as it got for the hosts.
Leicester were sloppy – even owing for Walsall’s determination – but they regrouped at the break to edge through.
It should have been by a greater margin as Tielemans hit the post from the spot early in the second half when Isaac Hutchinson felled Daka.
Andy Williams volleyed over as Walsall looked to take advantage but the miss only galvanised Leicester.
Owen Evans denied Harvey Barnes, Tielemans and Daka before Iheanacho broke the deadlock with 22 minutes left.
He collected the ball from Nampalys Mendy and was allowed to turn with his shot taking a big deflection off Brandon Comley to beat Evans.
“I’m proud of my players, as usual, 90 per cent of the time they give me everything I’m asking for,” said Walsall boss Michael Flynn, who dumped Leicester out with Newport in 2019.
“I do wish we took one of the chances we created, we know we’re not going to get many against a Premier League team so when you do it’s important you take it.
“Leicester controlled the game, in terms of possession, and I’d rather the penalty go in than a deflected effort. It was going wide. It’s a strange day but one I’m proud of.
“The FA Cup is a bonus, I said before you need everyone to take their chances and for them to have an off day but unfortunately they didn’t so the magic didn’t happen. I have a fantastic group who are going to stick together.”