Sunday, May 14, 2023

By Nick Mashiter, PA

Leicester boss Dean Smith has challenged his players to carry the psychological burden of their relegation battle.

The Foxes host Liverpool on Monday desperate for victory as they sit two points from safety with three games left.

Leeds’ 2-2 draw with Newcastle added extra pressure on the 2016 champions and dropped them to second bottom in the Premier League.

Smith, who replaced Brendan Rodgers until the end of the season last month, knows the importance of the Foxes keeping their heads.

“My approach has always been to challenge the players in terms of their performances because that’s the only thing they can control,” he said.

“When they go into the game their decision-making has to be good and they’ve made good decisions because otherwise they wouldn’t have won the FA Cup a couple of years ago. There are players here who have won the Premier League as well.

“What they’ve done in the past shows that they are good decision-makers but this is the cut and thrust now, we need to make sure we’re all good at making decisions.

“We’ve shown in all the games we’ve had so far that we can come back from a goal down, they know they can come back from that.

“We knew Fulham would come and press us and if they did we needed to play beyond them on the press and we played straight into it for the third goal.

“I felt we needed to change something at half-time and that might open us up a little bit in the second half because we wanted to be a bit more aggressive in our press.

“I’ve seen a really good attitude and application to training and to the matches that we’ve had, with the exception of 45 minutes at Fulham which I felt we were too passive, we looked a yard off it.

“Whether that was psychological or not I don’t know but it appeared to be because I get the running numbers after and I think we were slightly higher than Fulham in every metric. That psychological bit can let you down on technical ability at times and so our job is to ease that up.”

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