Leicester’s Dean Smith explains dropping Maddison and Barnes vs Newcastle

Leicester City boss Dean Smith discusses fans booing the team after Liverpool defeat

Leicester boss Dean Smith has explained his decision to name both James Maddison and Harvey Barnes on the bench for the Foxes’ penultimate Premier League game of the season away to Newcastle. Leicester are three points adrift of safety, but will hope to get a result without two of their key men.

The Foxes’ only win in their last 14 games came against Wolves, when neither Maddison nor Barnes started, but it was a huge surprise to supporters when both players were named among the substitutes.

Smith instead opted to switch to a 5-3-2 shape, as Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy started up front with a midfield three of Wilfried Ndidi, Youri Tielemans and Boubakary Soumare.

While the visitors’ back five comprised of Timothy Castagne, Harry Souttar, Jonny Evans, Wout Faes and Luke Thomas as they aim to keep Newcastle at bay, knowing that a result at St James’ Park would leave them in a much more positive mood going into their final game of the season against West Ham.

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Speaking to Sky Sports prior to kick-off, Smith explained the decision: “We decided to change it. We need to be harder to beat. The last couple of games we have needed goals to win them so we needed to make a change. We picked a team we feel can compete.

“I had to think long and hard about it. Watching the game against Brighton, the first two goals are from set-pieces and I wanted another centre-back in the team.”

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When asked how the pair reacted to the decision, Smith added: “They were professional about it. I want them to be disappointed if they’re not playing but they see the bigger picture and understand why.

“With both Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy, we’re not coming here just to not get beat but to win the game. We want to create chances as well and be competitive against a good team.

“The good thing is before the weekend started it wasn’t in our hands but it is for now. We want to keep it that way.”

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