Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri “loved” the character his side showed as the Foxes came from behind to draw 2-2 at Derby in a thrilling FA Cup fourth round tie on Friday night.
The Premier League champions took the lead courtesy of Darren Bent’s comical own-goal, but the former England striker made amends shortly after as he netted an equaliser for the Rams before Craig Bryson added a second just before half-time.
Ranieri’s charges dug deep in a fascinating cup clash though and their efforts were rewarded when Wes Morgan’s 86th minute leveller secured a replay.
The additional fixture means Leicester have quite a build-up of matches to play, with Champions League football set to return to the King Power Stadium in February.
When asked about that difficult schedule, Ranieri told his post-match press conference: “Stress? No. I think it was more stressful to lose tonight. There is an opportunity for the [players] to show their quality.
"It was very important [not to lose] We fight a lot to equalise. I’m satisfied. I think we deserved to draw the match.
"We started very well, we scored a goal and suddenly Derby had their first shot and scored. Second shot, they scored again. After we got nervous. The second half, we started better, we created chances, but the ball doesn’t want to go in the goal.
"I was very happy with our attitude, with our character, and also with our fans – they pushed a lot. I love when we show this character."
On the substitute return of Algeria international Riyad Mahrez from the Africa Cup of Nations, the Foxes boss added: “I was so in doubt to play with Riyad because he was so tired. He played very, very well."
Meanwhile, Ranieri said he had been too busy preparing his team for the FA Cup tie to think about signings despite the fact his side are in trouble of being dragged into a relegation scrap with just days until the January transfer window closes.
But the Italian says he will now have an opportunity to speak with director of football Jon Rudkin about Leicester’s targets.
“I was so concentrated on this match, I didn’t think about the market. Now my mind goes onto Burnley.
“Yes, of course, I will speak to the sporting director to see if there is something good. If not, ok.”