Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers was relieved the injury that forced Jamie Vardy to hobble out of Wednesday's clash with West Ham was not a hamstring issue.

Premier League top scorer Vardy lasted 43 minutes of Leicester's 4-1 victory at the King Power Stadium before coming off in pain.

Fears that his problem could be hamstring-related were dispelled by manager Rodgers, however, meaning Vardy may soon be back in action.

"He just felt a twinge in his glute, so we'll just have to wait and see on that over the next day or so," Rodgers said in his post-match news conference.

"Thankfully, he said his hamstring was fine, he just felt the pain on his glute, so we'll assess that over the next couple of days."

Vardy has scored 17 goals for Leicester in the English top flight this season, helping them to reach third place, three points behind second-placed champions Manchester City.

Leicester's next match is an FA Cup fourth-round trip to Brentford on Saturday.

They face Aston Villa in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final next Tuesday, before returning to Premier League duty on February 1 when Chelsea visit the King Power Stadium.

Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to Hamza Choudhury's second-half display in Leicester City's EFL Cup semi-final first-leg draw with Aston Villa, suggesting the midfielder gave the Foxes back their "identity".

​Leicester had been well on top in the first half at the King Power Stadium, but they trailed despite their dominance following Frederic Guilbert's 28th-minute opener.

It looked as though Villa were going to hang on, as Leicester struggled to create chances after the break and visiting goalkeeper Orjan Nyland enjoyed an impressive performance.

Kelechi Iheanacho eventually scored the equaliser 16 minutes from time, but it was Choudhury – who robbed Douglas Luiz in the build-up to the leveller – earning Rodgers' praise.

The midfielder was introduced at half-time to add much-needed steel after Wilfred Ndidi had been ruled out through injury on Tuesday, and Rodgers accepted he should have started the Leicester academy product.

"We dominated the game but we were passive in the first half, played too slow. It was all a bit slow," Rodgers told Sky Sports. "We didn't press the game enough.

"The goal we conceded, we have to be stronger, but we stayed calm and sped up the game, made more runs off the ball. Second half we were very good, they made some great blocks to stop us winning the game. Credit to them, they made it very difficult.

"Hamza Choudhury made a huge difference, it's my fault that I didn't start him. We could see that we needed him and he gave us our identity back.

"Wilfred Ndidi is so good for us, he's colossal, and we were too slow and not aggressive without him or Hamza."

Rodgers' counterpart Dean Smith feels the second-leg is tantalisingly poised, though he was frustrated by Villa's performance despite having the lead for a large chunk of the match.

"It should be a good second leg, all square and a boisterous crowd, a full house," he added. "But it wasn't the performance I wanted. Leicester were the better team, but we defended well at times.

"We have to be honest, they created chances as well. We were loose on the ball and we've got to do better. I'm certainly content with a draw, just not the performance.

"We gave away a farcical goal. Ezri Konsa has got brain dazzled. It's a disappointing goal, but it sums up some of our performance on the night."

The two sides will meet again for the second leg at Villa Park on January 28.

Manchester United will be without Harry Maguire for Tuesday's EFL Cup semi-final first leg against a Manchester City side showing eight changes at Old Trafford.

Maguire was a doubt with an injury that troubled him during United's 0-0 FA Cup draw with Wolves on Saturday, with City having progressed in that competition at the expense of League Two Port Vale.

With Maguire absent, Phil Jones was picked to start alongside Victor Lindelof, while Marcus Rashford took the captain's armband and Mason Greenwood played up front.

There was also a spot for Fred as the hosts made five changes, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka in at right-back and Jesse Lingard back in the starting XI, while Anthony Martial had to be content with a place among the substitutes.

City boss Pep Guardiola had the luxury of being able to recall the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling as he looks to win the trophy for a third year in a row, while Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus featured in a typically strong bench.

United, meanwhile, will be looking to take inspiration from last month's 2-1 win over their rivals in the Premier League as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eyes a first piece of silverware at the helm. 

Manchester United will be without Harry Maguire for Tuesday's EFL Cup semi-final first leg against a Manchester City side showing eight changes at Old Trafford.

Maguire was a doubt with an injury that troubled him during United's 0-0 FA Cup draw with Wolves on Saturday, with City having progressed in that competition at the expense of League Two Port Vale.

With Maguire absent, Phil Jones was picked to start alongside Victor Lindelof, while Marcus Rashford took the captain's armband and Mason Greenwood played up front.

There was also a spot for Fred as the hosts made five changes, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka in at right-back and Jesse Lingard back in the starting XI, while Anthony Martial had to be content with a place among the substitutes.

City boss Pep Guardiola had the luxury of being able to recall the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling as he looks to win the trophy for a third year in a row, while Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus featured in a typically strong bench.

United, meanwhile, will be looking to take inspiration from last month's 2-1 win over their rivals in the Premier League as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eyes a first piece of silverware at the helm. 

James Maddison will stay at Leicester City beyond the January transfer window as the club have no need to sell, manager Brendan Rodgers says.

The playmaker is said to be a target for Manchester United, who were reported by The Mirror to be prepared to offer around £45million plus Jesse Lingard to sign the England international.

Rodgers has always made it clear he has no desire to let key players leave this month and his stance on Maddison appears no different.

Indeed, Rodgers says the 23-year-old is in talks over a new contract with the Foxes, who are under no pressure to cash in on their prized assets after selling Harry Maguire to United in the previous window for close to £80m.

"There's no pressure to sell and no need to sell," Rodgers told reporters ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Aston Villa.

"James is a very talented player and he will be here in January and beyond.

"He's a player we're keen to remain here and help us on this journey over the next years. James and his representatives are speaking with the club and these things take time.

"We want to add to the squad if we can. It all comes down to availability. We've got a really strong squad and lots of them are young players evolving.

"We want to [sign players] but if we can't we'll continue with the squad we've got and look to reinforce in the summer."

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers insists they will not sell any of their star players unless the club decides they want them to leave.

With the Foxes second in the Premier League, in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup and with an FA Cup clash against Wigan Athletic to come on Saturday, 2019-20 is shaping up to be a strong season.

Leicester's form has seen some of their top players linked with moves elsewhere, with Manchester United said to be interested in James Maddison and Ben Chilwell a reported target for Chelsea and Manchester City.

Rodgers, though, is not prepared to entertain offers for any player he wants to keep at the King Power Stadium.

"Nobody will leave here that we don't want to go," he told reporters on Friday. "I think we've had a couple of enquiries in terms of loans and for some of our younger players.

"But the players that are always talked about and mentioned, there will be nobody going."

Rodgers would like to bring in some fresh faces in the transfer window to help Leicester's top-four push, but he accepts it is a difficult time to buy.

"We know if we're going to be playing European football next season then we're going to need the depth, but January is a very difficult month," he added.

"I think we'll see if we can improve the squad and if we don't then we'll have to wait until the summer but as I've said before we're in a really good place and we don't want to stockpile.

"They have to be players that are going to improve the squad."

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers believes it will be "very, very hard to stop" Liverpool winning the Premier League.

Liverpool moved 13 points clear at the top after thrashing Leicester 4-0 at King Power Stadium on Boxing Day.

Rodgers said his former club, who have won 17 of 18 league games this season, would be difficult to stop.

"They're going to be very, very hard to stop, there's no doubt. Fantastic team, confidence is high as well," he told a news conference.

"They've become winners now and haven't lost many games over an 18-month period, so to lose the games they would need to in the second part of the season... they've got enough players now, enough experience and enough quality to stay focused and get the job done.

"There's still a lot to play for but in our last couple of games we've come up against the best two teams in the league."

Roberto Firmino's brace, a James Milner penalty and Trent Alexander-Arnold strike saw Liverpool cruise past Rodgers' second-placed team.

Alexander-Arnold also provided two assists and Rodgers praised the right-back's performance.

"When I see him, he plays full-back as a midfield player. His range of passes is phenomenal for a young player," he said.

"Of course he was a midfield player at Liverpool as a youngster. His quality, his range of pass and experiences that he's gained in these past few years. For Jurgen [Klopp] he's been absolutely amazing.

"You see him with his goal, as soon as the switch came, he was up there supporting, his intent to get up and his strike from outside the box was absolutely brilliant.

"We've got one here at Leicester who's amazing as well, Ricardo Pereira, he's been outstanding for me this season and since I came in but Trent's up there and very much England's number one right-back and playing consistently at a very high level."

Jurgen Klopp knows Liverpool must cut off the supply line to Jamie Vardy when they travel to Leicester City in a meeting of the top two in the Premier League.

The Reds return to domestic duties on December 26 following their Club World Cup triumph in Qatar, with a trip to the King Power Stadium offering them the chance to extend their lead in the table.

Leicester missed the chance to cut the gap last weekend when they went down 3-1 to reigning champions Manchester City, meaning Liverpool remain 10 points clear ahead of a game against their nearest rivals.

However, if they want to put further daylight between themselves and the Foxes, they will need to keep Vardy quiet.

The former England international has scored 17 league goals already in this campaign, though Klopp recognises Brendan Rodgers' side are far from a one-man band.

"He's an exceptional striker, since I've come to England he's probably one of the top three," he said.

"He's always scoring, difficult to defend, always on the shoulder, running at your back, playing with the offside line. Really, really dangerous.

"But in football the only thing you can do is try to avoid as many passes to him as you can. That's what we'll try.

"Yet Leicester is not only Jamie Vardy - Brendan has done an excellent job there. They are a proper top-class team, the quality they have is exceptional."

Liverpool's sizeable advantage at the summit makes them firm favourites to be crowned Premier League champions for the first time, yet Klopp refuses to get too carried away by their position.

The German revealed how those inside the club are good at "shutting the doors" when it comes to talk of winning the title, allowing them to maintain their focus on the next challenge.

"We are not in this situation because we thought things are over before they are over," he said. "We are not in the situation we are in because we didn't take each game we played so far 100 per cent seriously.

"We always have the same focus and that is what it will be with Leicester. All the talk of, 'if we will do this, or do this' is absolutely not important and has absolutely no influence.

"We are pretty good at shutting the doors around us. We just play the next game then we have a couple of hours to recover and play the next game."

Pep Guardiola thanked his Manchester City players for sticking with him after a vital Premier League comeback win at home to Leicester City.

Guardiola's preparations for Saturday's clash at the Etihad Stadium were disrupted by the departure of his assistant Mikel Arteta, who left the club to take charge at Arsenal.

Arteta was part of the backroom staff that has led City to two highly impressive Premier League title successes but they won 3-1 against the Foxes in their first game without the 37-year-old.

Riyad Mahrez struck against his old club to cancel out Jamie Vardy's opener with Ilkay Gundogan's penalty and a close-range Gabriel Jesus finish wrapping up a fourth straight win in all competitions.

Guardiola, who has confirmed he will not immediately seek a replacement for Arteta on his staff, was grateful for a high-class display from his side.

"We made an incredible performance with the ball and without the ball," Guardiola told a news conference. 

"Having Vardy there is always dangerous, but we were always at a high, high level. 

"Thank you so much to the players for following me. We try and convince the players this is the team we want to be. 

"Against a team like Leicester we scored three goals and we could have scored more. That means a lot for the quality and mentality." 

Kevin De Bruyne set up Jesus for City's clincher and Guardiola was effusive in his praise for the team's talisman, as well as former Foxes forward Mahrez.

"We don't have doubts about Kevin," Guardiola added. "We cannot expect him to win the game every three days for us. 

"It's not just with the ball, it's without. He has everything. We want to play good, help Riyad be clinical. We have to make a fluent attack and today we did."

Although Leicester are still in second spot, a point ahead of City, Rodgers accepted his side were outplayed at the Etihad as they slipped to a first defeat in the league since October.

"They are an exceptional team," Rodgers told reporters. 

"I am a big admirer of Pep for many years, a follower of his and that Barcelona methodology. The work he has done here is incredible."

Kevin De Bruyne had one of his best games for a long time as Manchester City came from behind to beat Leicester City, according to manager Pep Guardiola.

Jamie Vardy's 17th Premier League goal of the season put the Foxes ahead at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

But ex-Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez's deflected shot and Ilkay Gundogan's penalty turned the game around before the break and Gabriel Jesus tapped home at the back post to seal the points.

De Bruyne set up Jesus for that second-half clincher and Guardiola believes the Belgium international's performance was even better than his star showing against Arsenal last time out.

"Kevin De Bruyne is a fighter and he helps us keep up the intensity when he's playing further up he helps the press a lot," Guardiola told BBC Sport. "That was the best he has played in a long time.

"We created a lot and played incredibly well with the ball. It's impossible to do anything to stop goals like that - they are so good. Guys like [Youri] Tielemans, they are so good at passing.

"But we were incredibly aggressive up front to stop them playing and we did well playing simple one-two touch and then pass.

"I like to watch my team play well so of course, it's better when they win. We reviewed the last games against Arsenal and Oxford [United in the EFL Cup] and we struggled a little bit so today was a good example about how we can play."

Leicester, second in the table, are still a point ahead of City but manager Brendan Rodgers accepts the match was a learning experience for the Foxes.

"I thought they were very, very good and the big teams can perform at that level," Rodgers told Sky Sports.

"We were disappointed first half, but second half we were a bit better, we had a bit more courage to get on the ball and play.

"Tonight is a good lesson for us of the work we still need to do to get to the level City are at.

"We took the lead when we weren't playing that well. Jamie was outstanding as was Kasper [Schmeichel] - they showed their level in a big game tonight.

"We always knew it would be difficult coming here, with the level they're at. We kept going and fighting but it wasn't the best of ourselves. City were outstanding.

"Evenings like this are humbling and good for you, because our young squad can learn from it."

Manchester City came from behind to win 3-1 at home to Leicester City in a vital victory for their slim Premier League title hopes.

Leicester took the lead at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday through Jamie Vardy's 17th Premier League goal of the season.

But champions City showed grit and determination despite Leicester's threat on the counter-attack and Riyad Mahrez equalised against his old club with a deflected drive.

Raheem Sterling won a penalty that Ilkay Gundogan converted and Gabriel Jesus struck after the break to move City within a point of their second-placed visitors, who remain 10 behind leaders Liverpool.

Kevin De Bruyne was outstanding against Arsenal last time out and his low 20-yard drive rattled the outside of the post with Kasper Schmeichel scrambling, but it was Leicester who took the lead with their first shot in the 22nd minute.

Harvey Barnes sent Vardy free down the left channel and he burst away from Fernandinho with ease before expertly lifting a deft finish over the onrushing Ederson.

Mahrez had been giving Ben Chilwell a tough time and, after he beat the full-back again, the former Foxes star's shot flew past Schmeichel, clipping the unlucky Caglar Soyuncu on its way in.

City were ahead by the interval, Ricardo Pereira clumsily bringing down Sterling with Gundogan squeezing his low penalty past Schmeichel despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to the kick, though Ederson had to deny James Maddison on the stroke of half-time.

Mahrez missed two clear chances to extend City's lead early in the second half before De Bruyne tried to set up Gabriel Jesus when he had Schmeichel's goal at his mercy.

Leicester continued to post a threat on the break, Barnes failing to convert a Vardy centre, but Schmeichel had to make a brilliant save to keep out another Mahrez effort.

City clinched it in the 69th minute, De Bruyne – who later went off with apparent cramp to be replaced by the returning Sergio Aguero – evading Soyuncu to cross for Jesus to tap in, and they may yet exert pressure on Liverpool during the second half of the season.


What does it mean? Champions' defence not over yet

Liverpool will have to suffer a serious slip-up to miss out on their first title of the Premier League era, but Pep Guardiola's side are not out of contention just yet.

Leicester had emerged as the Reds' nearest challengers this term but City, who have won four in a row in all competitions since losing the Manchester derby, are building momentum again though they may be concerned about Gundogan's late injury.

Former Fox Mahrez a menace

Consistency has been an issue for Mahrez since he joined City from Leicester but he showed his former club what they are missing with a performance of style combined with end product.

Mahrez arguably should have scored more than his one fortuitous goal but Leicester could not cope with the Algeria winger.

Leicester full-backs struggle to contain City

Jonny Evans had a fine game at the heart of Leicester's defence but full-backs Pereira and Chilwell – who has consistently been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium – had days to forget.

England international Chilwell was given the runaround by Mahrez while Pereira got in a poor position against Sterling to concede a decisive penalty. 

What's next?

Leicester have another huge game on December 26 when they host leaders Liverpool. The following day sees Guardiola's men in action away to Wolves.

Brendan Rodgers has slammed the "nonsense" Premier League fixture schedule that will force him to rest star striker Jamie Vardy during the festive period.

Leicester beat Everton in the EFL Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday and continue a gruelling run of games with Saturday's trip to Manchester City.

The Foxes then face Premier League leaders Liverpool on Boxing Day and have just one day of rest before an away match against West Ham.

Vardy has started all 17 of Leicester's league fixtures this season, scoring 16 goals, but Rodgers said the 32-year-old could not play every game.

"There is no chance," the Leicester manager told reporters. "You cannot risk the fitness of a player. You play on the 26th, you're going to play a high-intensity game here against Liverpool, fighting for the result.

"In football, it's the second day where the players suffer. You get that first day of recovery but it's the second day where it's really tough for a player. If we go along that route then the second day, instead of recovering, we're kicking off at 17:30 [local time] at West Ham.

"It's just nonsense, really.

"Some [clubs] will be a bit more fortunate with recovery than others. It helps when you have a big deep squad. You want to get through it without the risk of injury and looking to perform at the highest level you can."

Rodgers blamed administrators for losing sight of their duty of care to footballers.

"The game is about money now, you can't say it's about the welfare of players," he said.

Second-placed Leicester sit 10 points adrift of Liverpool ahead of the Etihad Stadium encounter with City, who are a further four points back in third.

Sergio Aguero and John Stones are in line to face Leicester City on Saturday, but David Silva remains a doubt, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Aguero has not played for the Premier League champions since suffering a thigh injury in the 2-1 win over Chelsea on November 23, while Stones was hurt in the 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester United on December 7.

Both players resumed training this week and Guardiola appeared hopeful on Friday that they will be ready for the visit of Leicester to the Etihad Stadium.

Silva, however, still seems to be struggling with a knock he sustained against United.

"Sergio and John Stones have trained," Guardiola told a news conference. "They have had two sessions. David Silva, no."

The likely returns of Aguero and Stones come as a boost to City, who go into the game four points behind Leicester in the table and 14 adrift of leaders Liverpool.

Guardiola expects a difficult game against Brendan Rodgers' side but remains confident City can close the gap at the top.

"There are a lot of games to play," he said. "The distance we have now, the teams in front or behind can change in a few weeks, and especially in this period. We have to do what we have to do.

"They [Leicester] have a lot of quality and they play good and control all departments of the game. They are a fantastic team and last season I thought they would be fighting for the top four."

Rodgers hopes Saturday's game can serve as a showcase for how strong his side have become, particularly stars such as James Maddison.

"It is the game where the big players and the big personalities can perform and thankfully James has done that throughout the season," Rodgers said.

"He has got eight goals in 20 games, which for a young midfield player is absolutely brilliant. He has that personality and belief that in the big games he can perform.

"We respect we are playing against a really top-class team that have been the champions the last couple of seasons and play to a fantastic level.

"It is a great opportunity for us to show we are improving and for our players to demonstrate their qualities in such a big game.

"We are mindful of their quality, but I would say it is a great opportunity for us to show our qualities and the talent we have in our team."

Interim manager Duncan Ferguson was "devastated" by Everton's penalty shootout defeat to Leicester City in the EFL Cup, but he believes there is potential to build on at Goodison Park.

Amid reports former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti is set to take charge, Everton fought back from two goals down against high-flying Leicester on Wednesday, only to lose 4-2 on spot-kicks.

James Maddison and Jonny Evans put Brendan Rodgers' side in control by half-time, but Tom Davies' volley paved the way for Leighton Baines to force penalties with a stunning stoppage-time equaliser.

Jamie Vardy scored the decisive spot-kick, however, sending Leicester through to their first EFL Cup semi-final since 1999-2000.

Ferguson was left to rue a slack first half, but he believes his successor - seemingly Ancelotti - has the basis of a promising squad.

"I am devastated, and the players are, too," Ferguson told a news conference. "We were too passive in the first half, just not aggressive enough. We were much better in the second half but we've just come up short.

"It's difficult because it was practically the same team as the weekend, and we're down to the bare bones at the minute. But we'll pick ourselves up and go again for another massive game [against Arsenal] on Saturday.

"We have great potential. There is a great team spirit here, and there's something to build on. The players have given me every ounce of energy they have over the past three games - and I thank them for that.

"I've loved every moment of this. The first two results help you, and I'm proud tonight about the second-half performance. But for the fans, not getting to the semi-final, I'm devastated."

Ferguson caused some controversy on Sunday when he took off Moise Kean just 19 minutes after the former Juventus youngster had come on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Manchester United.

Kean was introduced at half-time on Wednesday and looked sharp as Everton rallied, with an excellent cross for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who headed over, a highlight of the 19-year-old's display.

"I spoke to him [before the game] so there's no problems at all," Ferguson said of Kean. "I thought he did well tonight. It was a good reaction, but we go again for Saturday."

Leicester boss Rodgers, meanwhile, has now progressed in 29 successive cup matches across spells with Liverpool, Celtic and the Foxes, but he praised his counterpart for his impact since Marco Silva's dismissal.

"I think what you've seen in these last few games is that [Ferguson] has given the crowd and the team real spirit," Rodgers said.

"He was great on the touchline. When I saw him from the outside, he's a true Evertonian, but he's also a very good coach."

Duncan Ferguson suffered his first defeat as Everton's interim manager as Leicester City booked their place in the EFL Cup semi-finals with a penalty shoot-out victory at Goodison Park.

Carlo Ancelotti is reportedly close to taking over at Everton, who had beat Chelsea and drawn with Manchester United under Ferguson, whose side fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in normal time to set up penalties.

After quickfire goals from James Maddison and Jonny Evans had put Leicester in control, Everton rallied through Tom Davies and Leighton Baines' stoppage-time stunner.

But Baines could not repeat his heroics from the spot as he, along with Cenk Tosun, failed to beat Kasper Schmeichel - the Premier League's leading scorer Jamie Vardy ensuring Leicester's place in the last four.

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