(Reuters) – Leicester City have made a solid start to their Premier League campaign but they cannot be mentioned in the same breath as Liverpool and Manchester City when discussing title credentials, manager Brendan Rodgers said on Wednesday.
Leicester are third in the table after nine games — eight points adrift of leaders Liverpool and two behind City. The two teams above them are the only sides to win more points since Rodgers was appointed in March.
The Foxes beat remarkable odds to win the league title in the 2015-16 season but Rodgers said he was not getting overly excited about the possibility of a repeat this season.
“I think everyone recognises that Liverpool and Manchester City are the two top teams,” Rodgers told reporters ahead of Friday’s match at Southampton. “There’s a group in behind those.
“We’re nine games in, we’ve made a very good start and since we’ve worked together in February, the players have accumulated a lot of points and performed very well. We’re at the beginning of where we want to go to and it’s a very long season.”
Rodgers said midfielder James Maddison will be fit for the game after recovering from an ankle injury that prevented him from playing the full 90 minutes in last weekend’s 2-1 home win over Burnley.
“He’s been fine, he’s been good in training up until now,” Rodgers told reporters. “It was a case where he didn’t do much in the couple of weeks after the Tottenham game and leading into Liverpool he hadn’t done a great deal.
“He lasted the game (against Burnley) very well. He wasn’t right up to the match fitness, but he got a good period in the game in. He came off and he will be fit and ready for Friday.”
Leicester take on a Southampton side who sit 17th with eight points from nine games, outside the relegation zone due to a healthier goal difference.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuettl, who guided RB Leipzig to a second-place finish in the Bundesliga in 2016-17, helped the Premier League side avoid relegation last season but they are yet to win a game at home in the current campaign.
“He (Hasenhuettl) came in and made an impact,” Rodgers said. “They like to be aggressive in the press at home and they’ve got some talented players.
“I also saw Ralph’s teams at RB Leipzig and they’re dangerous to play against.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)