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Leicester's Drinkwater hailed as the 'English Pirlo'


Centre of attention: Danny Drinkwater (right) laps it up

Centre of attention: Danny Drinkwater (right) laps it up

AFP/Getty Images

Centre of attention: Danny Drinkwater (right) laps it up

Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater earned plaudits for another superb all-round performance in his side's 3-0 victory against Stoke.

Drinkwater's display on Saturday, in which he scored one goal - his first in the Premier League - and made another for Jamie Vardy as the Foxes moved three points clear at the top of the table, was nothing new though.

The former Manchester United trainee has been something of an unsung hero in Leicester's surprise challenge for the title this season, as Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have regularly grabbed the headlines.

After the win, manager Claudio Ranieri fielded questions about a possible call-up to the England squad for Drinkwater while team-mate Christian Fuchs described him as "the English Pirlo".

"I always tell him to shoot at goal because if you don't shoot you can't score," said Ranieri.

"It is important for him and his confidence because he is a hard worker and a good passer, a very good midfielder.

"I don't know (about England). Of course (England manager) Roy (Hodgson) is watching us and if he needs some of my English players then I am very pleased to give them to him."

Fuchs tweeted a photograph of himself and Drinkwater under which he made the comparison with Pirlo - the former AC Milan and Juventus playmaker renowned for his vision.

Substitute Leonardo Ulloa, a 62nd-minute replacement for the injured Shinji Okazaki, stabbed in Leicester's third goal with three minutes remaining.

Ranieri revealed that Okazaki's injury was only minor, saying: "Shinji is okay, nothing serious. Just a problem behind the knee."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes, on the other hand, is far more concerned about the injury that forced Ryan Shawcross off after half an hour.

"His back unfortunately locked up, and his hip," said Hughes.

"We're hopeful that it's nothing too serious and no recurrence of his problem that he had before. Hopefully it's just a muscular issue."

Shawcross may miss the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Liverpool tomorrow but Hughes has his fingers crossed that Marko Arnautovic will be back from injury at Anfield as Stoke look to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit.

"Hopefully he will be fit. We'll check again," said Hughes. "Hopefully he'll benefit from the rest he had."

Belfast Telegraph