Claude Puel admits Leicester’s preparation for their Premier League game against Burnley has not been easy.
However, the Foxes boss believes the spirit in his squad and the club’s fans can help them get a positive result on Saturday.
Leicester flew to Bangkok straight after last Saturday’s game at Cardiff to attend the funeral of former chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who died, along with four other people, when his helicopter crashed just outside the King Power Stadium on October 27.
CP: “It was a full week with different things. Our journey to Thailand for Khun Vichai’s funeral was a long one, but it was very important for the players and staff to support his family.” #LeiBur pic.twitter.com/JcsXjOE5SD— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 8, 2018
They travelled back on Monday night and after being given time to recover have only been able to manage light training sessions in the build-up to the visit of Burnley – Leicester’s first home game since the tragedy.
While Puel’s players may not be in the best physical condition the Frenchman believes they will be better prepared mentally for making the 12,000-mile round trip.
“It was a long journey but very important for us, for the players and staff to support Vichai’s family,” said Puel.
“It was a chance for us also to have togetherness and to honour our chairman. It was a long trip but it was very important for us and our chairman.
“We haven’t had a lot of training sessions. We tried to work a little on Wednesday, it was a light session after the journey. Thursday we have been training lightly again and again on Friday we will do so.
“It is not easy to prepare for this game but I think this togetherness between ourselves is a good feeling and it will give us fantastic energy and strength.
“I think we compensate with our spirit and attitude, and the support from our fans will be very important also of course.”
Puel praised his players for the way they handled their emotions at Cardiff last weekend, where Demarai Gray’s goal gave Leicester a 1-0 victory in what was their first match after the crash.
However, Saturday promises to be an even more emotional occasion and the Foxes boss said: “In the last game we found the right balance between emotion and our concentration and focus, but this will be harder.
“We have to try to do the same again. It is the most important thing to manage the emotion around this game. We have to have the possibility to give a good response and honour our chairman.
“It is our first game at home and there is a lot of emotion around it, before, during and afterwards. We know this. But the players have shown great maturity, it is like a family. It is important to honour our chairman and play a good game.
“We will manage the moment step by step but I feel in my players’ focus and soul. They have learned a lot about themselves in all this and I am proud of them all.”
Many tributes to Srivaddhanaprabha, and the four others who died in the crash, are planned on Saturday including a special ‘Tribute to Khun Vichai’ video to be shown on the big screens inside the King Power Stadium.
Thousands of fans also plan to march from Jubilee Square in the city centre to the ground.
Puel said: “All the different support from everybody is great, of course. There is a lot of things planned to honour the chairman and it is great.
“It shows fans, club, staff and players are united in this moment. We are like a family.”
Meanwhile, Puel revealed that Harry Maguire and James Maddison both have knee injuries and will miss the game on Saturday, as well as England’s forthcoming matches against USA and Croatia.
“Harry is not fit for this game and Maddison also,” said Puel.
“They will miss this game and England. Maguire is a little more serious than Maddison, I think. `We will see if they can make it back after the international break.”
- Press Association