Claudio Ranieri plays down fixture congestion after Leicester draw with Derby

27 January 2017 11:09

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri is not worried about fixture congestion despite a draw at Derby leaving his side with an FA Cup replay.

With the Premier League champions fighting to maintain their top-flight status and the Champions League set to resume next month, arguably the last thing Leicester needed was another game but t hat is what they face after Wes Morgan's late header saw Friday's fourth-round tie finish 2-2.

The two sides must do it all over again at the King Power Stadium on February 8, during a month when Ranieri's team face Manchester United, relegation rivals Swansea, Sevilla and Liverpool, but the Italian would rather that than be out of the FA Cup.

"More game is not more stress, no. I think it would have been more stressful to lose tonight," said Ranieri.

"It was very important (not to lose), important for our confidence. We fight a lot, there is another match and it is okay. I am satisfied.

"It was an opportunity for some players to show their quality and I am very happy with their attitude and character."

Morgan, the former Nottingham Forest defender, headed home with four minutes remaining when it looked like Craig Bryson's lovely individual goal just before half-time would send the Leicester crashing out.

Earlier in the first half Darren Bent scored at both ends, presenting Leicester the lead with a bizarre own goal before making amends with a glancing header.

Ranieri said: "The first shot they score and the second shot they score again. In the second half we were better and created chances but the ball didn't want to go in the goal and in the end we deservedly equalise."

While Ranieri did not mind the replay, Derby boss Steve McClaren would rather the tie had been settled on the night.

The Rams were within touching distance of the fifth round but McClaren was proud of how his Championship promotion hopefuls pushed the English champions all the way.

He said: "It was a cracking game, what a cup tie and what an atmosphere. I'm just disappointed we didn't win.

"I'm so proud of the players. That was a damn good Leicester side, the Leicester side of last season - hard to beat and quick on the transition - and we drew. Nobody wanted the draw, both teams tried to win it.

''We showed great character after going behind but we dug in and it would have been nice if we'd hung on. We could've had a penalty at the end but I'm so proud and we have to do it again in two weeks."

Source: PA