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Brendan Rodgers: 'James Maddison is so important for us'

Brendan Rodgers: 'James Maddison is so important for us'
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The midfielder is working his way back to full pace after a hip injury.

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers says it is "a Catch-22" at the moment in terms of James Maddison's playing time.

The England midfielder's return to action after over a month out due to a hip issue has seen him make five appearances so far.

After two cameos as a substitute, Maddison played around 70 minutes of the 3-0 win over West Brom and 2-1 victory over Crystal Place, then completed the full duration of last week's 1-1 draw at Southampton.

Leicester, lying third in the Premier League table, host Newcastle on Friday and Rodgers said: "It's a Catch-22 with James because he needs the games to get up to full speed, but at the same time they are important games for us.

"He's a really important player for us. He's gradually working his way towards that. The 90 minutes was important for him.

"He's had a good week's training this week and then he'll look to take that intensity into the next game.

"He's an outstanding player, he's not at his full level of fitness yet but the only way he's going to get that is within the games. It's another week for him and hopefully he can perform at his highest level against Newcastle."

Leicester head into Friday's contest five points ahead of fifth-placed West Ham with four games to go, and Rodgers said: "It's going to be tight right to the end, we've always thought that. We can only really concentrate on ourselves and do our own job.

"In order to finish in that top four you have to win games. We're in a great position on 63 points, we've four more games to go, we'll look to our next game to win and that's what we'll look to do in all the games between now and the end of the season."

When asked about criticism that has been aimed at his Newcastle counterpart Steve Bruce – whose side are 17th, nine points above the relegation zone – Rodgers said: "I think Steve's done an outstanding job.

"He's limited in terms of the budget he has to spend on players, but he's had to go in and organise. Newcastle's an incredible club, the size of it, the fan base, the expectation there. But he's gone in, he's organised them really well.

"Graeme (Jones) has gone in there (as an assistant to Bruce) to help him, and you can see the football idea and how they are trying to shape the team and play. I think he has done an outstanding job, and he's shown throughout his career that he's an excellent manager."

As well as the remainder of their bid to secure Champions League football, Leicester also have an FA Cup final against Chelsea ahead.

There are set to be around 6,000 supporters of each club in attendance at the pilot event at Wembley on May 15, and Rodgers said: "It will be amazing just to see that support there.

"It's a shame we couldn't get more but it's a step in the right direction. To have the 6,000 there will be brilliant."

There will also be up to 10,000 fans – all home supporters – allowed into the final two rounds of Premier League matches, provided the Government goes ahead with the planned easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Rodgers said: "It will be a pleasant shock. We had it at Wembley a few weeks back in the Southampton game (the FA Cup semi-final, another pilot event), and it was just great to hear the noise.

"I think everyone involved in the game is excited by getting supporters back, and the quicker we can get it up to full capacity the better."

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Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce pictured on March 7, 2021
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States22251764
Olympics flagRussian Olympic Committee12211750
Great BritainGreat Britain11121235
Today's Olympic highlights header

Tuesday's key events

· Team GB duo Jack Laugher - silver medallist in Rio - and James Heatly take part in the men's 3m springboard semi-final (2am), and will hope to qualify for the final later in the day (7am)

· Two Britons are involved in the women's long jump final, but Abigail Irozuru and Jazmin Sawyers have their work cut out to get a spot on the podium (2.50am)
· Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who broke the world record just last month, goes for gold in the men's 400m hurdles final. USA's Rai Benjamin is expected to be his main challenger (4.20am)
· Great Britain have three representatives in the final of the women's 800m, with Jemma Reekie having perhaps the best chance of a medal (1.25pm)
· A mouth-watering women's 200m final sees Elaine Thompson-Herah go for the prestigious sprint double after claiming the 100m crown. Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Namibia's Christine Mboma and USA's Gabrielle Thomas are expected to be her main competitors (1.50pm)

· The rescheduled women's skiff 49er FX (4.33am) and men's skiff 49er (5.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races
· Defending champion Giles Scott bids for a second successive gold in the Finn class medal race (6.33am)
· There is another medal chance for Team GB in the mixed Nacra 17 medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Joe Fraser takes part in the parallel bars final, kicking off the final day of artistic gymnastics (9am)
· USA superstar Simone Biles, who has been forced to pull out of all of her finals so far, is on the starting list for the beam final as she bids for a fifth Olympic gold (9.50am)

· The men's semi-finals take place, with Mexico taking on Brazil first up (9am)
· The winner of that first semi-final will face either hosts Japan or Spain (2pm)

· Laura Kenny will look to win a third straight Olympic team pursuit gold medal. Team GB take on United States in their heat (7.44am), with the gold medal race later that day (9.26am)
· Laura's husband and fellow Olympic legend Jason Kenny will also look to continue his huge success in the men's team sprint - an event he has won gold in at every Games since 2008. Team GB will first need to get through the men's qualifying (7.58am), with the gold medal race ending the session (9.44am)

· Pat McCormack will be looking to achieve his dream of Olympic gold when he faces Cuba's Roniel Iglesias (11.05am)

> Today's schedule in full
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