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Leicester continue EPL life after Ranieri

Press Association logoPress Association 27/02/2017

Champions Leicester return to action against Liverpool on Tuesday morning AEDT looking to put the Claudio Ranieri episode to one side and haul themselves out of the Premier League bottom three.

The Foxes slipped into the relegation zone at the weekend just hours after Ranieri had bade farewell to the group he guided to an improbable championship success only nine months earlier.

That decision to part ways with the Italian has received little sympathy across the wider football community, though senior Foxes players have rallied against suggestions they plotted his downfall by meeting with the club's owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha following the 2-1 loss to Sevilla last Wednesday.

Kasper Schmeichel has insisted there was no issue with Ranieri, while Jamie Vardy said such speculation was "untrue and extremely hurtful" and Marc Albrighton described himself as "very angry and upset" that he, Schmeichel, Vardy and captain Wes Morgan had been accused of conspiring behind their then manager's back.

In a statement released to Press Association Sport, Albrighton said: "I rarely comment on press stories, however I am very angry and upset with The Times' article and other speculation suggesting I was involved in any discussions or meetings regards the manager's departure.

"This is totally incorrect. I had a good relationship with the manager and total respect for what he achieved for the club. I spoke with him after he left and thanked him personally for everything he did for me.

"At the worst time of my family's life, the manager helped me achieve something I didn't think in my wildest dreams would be possible. It helped us to be positive about something when everything was negative."

The mother of Albrighton's partner was killed during the Tunisia terror attacks in June 2015.

The 27-year-old continued: "The first day I met the manager he told me he believed in me; before the last game of his LCFC reign, he told me the same.

"I will never be truly able to thank him for everything he has helped me achieve and the faith he has shown in me and he knows that I always did my best for him."

In Ranieri's absence, caretaker Craig Shakespeare will take charge of a Leicester team that have failed to score in the league in 2017 and have lost their past five top-flight games, with only a victory against Jurgen Klopp's men good enough to lift them back to a safe spot.

One potential candidate to be Ranieri's permanent successor has also ruled himself out of the running. Ex-Foxes boss and current Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek: "I wouldn't be going. I'm enjoying the job here (with the Republic) at this moment and we have some big games ahead."

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