Brendan Rodgers has paid tribute to Jamie Vardy as the former England striker closes in on a decade in Leicester City colours ahead of their Premier League clash with relegated Watford this weekend.
Vardy first arrived at the club from Fleetwood Town in 2012, when they were an ambitious Championship club, and has been one of the major on-field cornerstones that saw them transform from a second-tier side to shock English champions just four years later.
The forward added another medal to his trophy cabinet last term when Rodgers led the club to the FA Cup at Wembley, and now the manager has paid tribute to the attacker as one of the best in his arsenal.
“He’s a special player and a special person,” Rodgers said. “Everyone references his age, but it’s about how he is physically – and when he is at that level, he’s still a threat.
“To have longevity, you need to look after yourself. He is blessed genetically. He still works very hard and keeps himself very fit.”
Vardy has a year left to run on his contract at the King Power Stadium, and while talks have not been held on the matter of a new deal, Rodgers is unconcerned on the relative lack of pace in agreeing fresh terms.
“We’re quite relaxed on it,” he added. “There probably will be some discussions when we assess it in the summer. He’s very happy here.”
Opposite number Roy Hodgson meanwhile has acknowledged that he will not rule out a future return to management once again after his stint at the helm of the Hornets, after it was confirmed Forest Green Rovers boss Rob Edwards would succeed him at Vicarage Road.
“It’s dangerous to say never, isn’t it?” he added. “I am still relatively fit and, apart from my current problem (shingles), relatively healthy as well. So I don’t think I’m retiring, because I literally just couldn’t do it.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Watford – Ben Foster
The Hornets kept their first clean sheet in 23 Premier League home games in their 0-0 draw with Everton last time out, thanks to the former England goalkeeper. They last kept consecutive top-flight shutouts at Vicarage Road in December 2019.
Leicester City – Jamie Vardy
Since 2014-15, only Harry Kane (40) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals against newly promoted sides than the former England man (34 – 24 goals, 10 assists), while he’s scored 16 goals in his last 14 games against such sides.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Watford have lost just two of their last 11 home league games against Leicester (W7 D2) and are unbeaten in their last four (W3 D1) since a 1-0 loss in March 2016.
– Leicester are looking to complete the Premier League double over Watford for just the second time, previously doing so in their 2015-16 title winning campaign.
– Leicester have already beaten Watford twice this season, winning 4-2 in the league and 4-1 in the FA Cup. The Foxes have never scored 4+ goals in three games against an opponent in a single season before.
– After remaining unbeaten in their final home game in their first nine top-flight seasons (W5 D4), Watford have lost three of their last four (W1), conceding at least four goals in each defeat.
– Leicester’s 107 Premier League games played on Sundays have produced on average 3.3 goals, with the Foxes scoring 177 and conceding 175. Of the 103 occasions of a team playing at least 50 games on a specific day of the week in the competition, Leicester on Sunday has the highest average goals-per-game.