Belfast Telegraph

Absent Mahrez casts shadow but boss Puel calling for a united front

By Carl Markham

Leicester boss Claude Puel has called for unity in the continued absence of Riyad Mahrez.

Puel confirmed that the want-away midfielder would miss a third consecutive match tomorrow when Leicester face Manchester City - the team who launched a late bid to sign Mahrez at the end of last month's transfer window.

The 26-year-old has not been seen by the club since Leicester blocked what would have been a dream move to the Premier League leaders.

While Puel was clear that Mahrez would not feature against Pep Guardiola's side, he refused to clarify a number of other details.

The Frenchman would not say if he had spoken to Mahrez since his absence began on January 30, whether he knows the whereabouts of the Algerian, or if he could put a date on a return.

"Riyad is not available for Saturday. I hope he can come back and work hard with the team sooner rather than later," said the Foxes manager. "The most important thing for me is to keep Riyad, the club and the fans united and in a good way. It is important to keep a good feeling together through these difficulties."

Sources at the club stress that keeping details confidential is paramount in adhering to employment law but the uncertainty surrounding Mahrez's future is casting a shadow over the King Power Stadium.

Puel said: "I hope Riyad can get his head right and come back with us and work hard. The best way is for him to come back and enjoy his football. He is a magnificent player. He loves his team-mates, and that's important."

Belfast Telegraph

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