Belfast Telegraph

Leicester without suspended Jamie Vardy until new year

Leicester will be without striker Jamie Vardy until the new year after an appeal against his red card in Saturday's draw at Stoke was rejected.

The 29-year-old was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Mame Biram Diouf, with referee Craig Pawson deeming the foul reckless enough to warrant a dismissal.

The Foxes fell two goals behind as Stoke made full use of their one-man advantage, only for the reigning Premier League champions to fight back and seal a 2-2 draw.

Leicester lodged an appeal but the Football Association announced on Monday afternoon that it had failed.

In a short disciplinary statement, the FA said: "Jamie Vardy will serve a three-match suspension with immediate effect after his wrongful dismissal claim was rejected.

"The Leicester City striker was sent off for serious foul play during the game at Stoke City on Saturday 17 December 2016."

The verdict will come as a blow to Claudio Ranieri and his side as they struggle to live up to the expectations of defending champions.

They have won only four of their opening 17 games of the campaign and are just three points above the Premier League relegation zone.

Now they face the prospect of entering their festive fixtures without Vardy, whose own form has reflected Leicester's change in fortune.

The former non-league striker broke the league record by scoring in 11 consecutive matches last term, but went 16 games without a goal before ending his barren steak with a hat-trick in the recent victory over Manchester City.

However, he will miss the Boxing Day clash against Everton, the New Year's Eve meeting with West Ham and the trip to Middlesbrough on January 2.

He will be available again for the FA Cup third-round tie against the Toffees at Goodison Park on January 7 having completed his three-match suspension - which Ranieri was keen to avoid having defended his talisman at the Bet365 Stadium.

"He wants to challenge and get the ball, not make a foul," the Italian said after the match.

''If you listen to me I say, 'no' (to a red card), if you listen to (Stoke boss) Mark Hughes, he says 'yes'. But the decision is the referee and he says it's a red card.

"There was a big challenge between (Glen) Johnson and Vardy. He touched the ball. Maybe it was yellow.''

Ranieri has several options to replace Vardy, with club-record signing Islam Slimani having partnered him in attack in recent weeks and the likes of Ahmed Musa and Leonardo Ulloa, one of the goalscorers at Stoke, waiting in the wings.

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