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Brendan Rodgers happy to seize chance to rest stars like Jonny Evans with Europa League progress assured

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Leicester’s Jonny Evans

Leicester’s Jonny Evans

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Alex Runarsson

Alex Runarsson

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Leicester’s Jonny Evans

Brendan Rodgers has welcomed the respite that comes with Leicester qualifying from the Europa League group stage with games to spare as he prepares to rest some of his jaded players and bring back a key trio from injury.

Leicester guaranteeing themselves a place in the knockout rounds has allowed them to leave Kasper Schmeichel, Jonny Evans, Youri Tielemans and Jamie Vardy back in the midlands ahead of their penultimate Group G fixture in Ukraine.

The quartet have had a heavy workload as Leicester juggle domestic and European commitments this season but Rodgers is able to give them a breather ahead of their Premier League match at Sheffield United on Sunday.

A number of fringe players and youngsters will get the opportunity to impress against Zorya Luhansk tonight, when Ricardo Pereira is set to make his first appearance since March following his recovery from a knee injury.

Fellow defender Caglar Soyuncu and midfielder Wilfred Ndidi are also set to make their comebacks after respective adductor issues, which is a welcome relief for Rodgers.

"We're enjoying the season and the challenge of the games so close but of course there's a physical load on the players and especially with the number of players we've had injured," the Leicester manager said.

"From time to time I've seen a little bit of tiredness in the team because some of the players are having to play so much because of the numbers we've had out. It felt right to give them the rest.

Meanwhile, Alex Runarsson insists he is ready to challenge to be first choice at Arsenal - otherwise he would not have joined this summer.

Runarsson was signed to provide cover for Bernd Leno after Emiliano Martinez left to join Aston Villa and is likely to return to the side for the visit of Rapid Vienna but is keen to fight for the No.1 jersey.

"Yes, I think that should be the mindset for everybody that you want to play," Runarsson replied when asked if he is ready to challenge the Germany international.

"It doesn't matter what position you play. I think maybe as a goalkeeper it is a little bit different, but you definitely have to have the mentality that you want to push to become the No.1."

During his time at Dijon, Runarsson conceded 59 goals in 34 league starts and kept just five clean sheets along the way - the last coming in April 2019.

But he has yet to concede while donning the gloves for Arsenal in their Europa League group-stage wins over Dundalk and Molde, who play each other this evening.

Belfast Telegraph


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