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Jamie Vardy and David Nugent scored the goals to send the Foxes back into the top flight but Nigel Pearson has spent £7 million on Brighton striker Leonardo Ulloa

By Jamie Dunn

Leicester City are back in the Premier League for the first time since 2004 but have made few changes to their squad ahead of their return to the top flight.

Goal takes a look at the state of play for the Championship winners...

Nigel Pearson has made only a handful of signings so far as he equips his side for Premier League survival ahead of the new season.

Leonardo Ulloa has joined the club from Brighton in a £7 million deal but otherwise Leicester have spent little, signing free agents to supplement the squad.

Experienced centre-back Matthew Upson makes his return to the Premier League after a stint alongside Ulloa with the Seagulls in the Championship.

Marc Albrighton, who left Aston Villa after his contract expired this summer, has moved to the King Power Stadium on a free transfer having spent a brief spell on loan with Wigan last season.
Ben Hamer has made the move to Leicester from Championship side Charlton and former Manchester United youth product Jack Barmby has also arrived, though may not immediately be involved in the senior setup.

Pearson has also expressed an interest in former Inter midfielder Esteban Cambiasso and confirmed that there have been talks with the Argentina international but the 33-year-old is yet to complete a move.

Leicester have let a number of players go this summer but only one was heavily involved in first team affairs last season.

Lloyd Dyer, who featured 31 times in the league as the Foxes were crowned champions, has moved to Championship promotion hopefuls Watford.

Kevin Phillips, who made a short-term move from Crystal Palace, has now retired, while Sean St Ledger, Neil Danns, Zak Whitbread, Marco Futacs and Martyn Waghorn have all been moved on. Paul Gallagher, meanwhile, has gone on loan to Preston for a second consecutive season.

Leicester boss Pearson says that his players have a confident air about them ahead of their first season back in the Premier League but, while they have some top-flight experience in their ranks, they may well struggle.

In Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester have a goalkeeper with pedigree. Already a Denmark international, the son of Manchester United legend Peter and a Manchester City academy product is likely to attract plenty of interest with his presence in the top flight.

At 30, centre-back Wes Morgan is set to get his chance in the Premier League. The former Nottingham Forest man is a physical presence but, alongside new signing Upson, could struggle with the pace of the Premier League's top strikers.

Former Manchester United man Richie De Laet could line up at right-back and Jeff Schlupp, meanwhile, is a product of the Leicester youth system who has recently earned caps for Ghana, but has converted to left-back having originally broke through as a striker. Liam Moore, another of the club's home-grown prospects, can play at right-back or centre-back.

Another pair of former Old Trafford youngsters are likely to line up in the centre of midfield as Matt James and Danny Drinkwater look set to be Pearson's preferred partnership, with Andy King entering the final year of his contract. Albrighton offers a new option in wide areas, while January signing Riyad Mahrez impressed upon his arrival at the King Power Stadium and Anthony Knockaert is a 22-year-old Frenchman who boasts great technical ability and is capable of the sublime.

Leicester have invested £7m in bolstering their attack, bringing in Ulloa, but he will face competition from prolific strike partnership David Nugent - who laboured somewhat in the Premier League with Portsmouth and on loan at Burnley previously - and Jamie Vardy.

Ulloa may have cost Leicester £7m but it could be Vardy who scores the goals to keep the Foxes in the top flight this season.

At 27, Vardy has taken the long road to the Premier League. The striker played plenty of non-league football and, after a brief but fruitful spell in front of goal with Halifax Town, was snapped up by Fleetwood, on their ascendancy up the English football pyramid.

Leicester paid an initial £1m for Vardy in 2012 and he struggled to recapture his form lower down the ladder, scraping just four goals in 26 league games. He thought about walking away from football entirely.

But Pearson showed unwavering faith in the pacey, instinctive striker and was rewarded with 16 league goals in 36 games last season. If he can reach double figures in the Premier League, Leicester are in with a fighting chance of survival.


Were it not for a play-off semi-final penalty shoot-out defeat to Cardiff City in 2010, Nigel Pearson might have returned Leicester to the Premier League four years ago.

The Foxes were close to back-to-back promotions but fell short of the play-off final in the cruelest of fashions. Shortly after, Pearson left the club for Hull City amid suspicions that they were lining up Paulo Sousa as his replacement.

His stay with Hull was short-lived, however, and Pearson returned with Leicester under new ownership in November 2011 following unsuccessful stints for Sousa and Sven-Goran Eriksson in the Midlands.

After a difficult first season back in which Leicester finished ninth, Pearson guided his side back into the play-offs in 2012-13 but they again fell agonisingly short to Watford. Finally last season the Foxes cracked it, finishing the campaign top of the Championship.

An uncompromising defender with Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough as a player, Pearson made his side extremely difficult to beat last season. The challenge now is to maintain that approach in the Premier League.

A GOOD 2014-15 WOULD BE...

Survival. Despite finishing top of the Championship last season, few will back Leicester as strongly as QPR to beat the drop this season due to their modest summer spending.

Pearson himself is under no illusion regarding the size of the task at hand this season.

"I have been asked if staying up is just enough, and that has to be the bottom line," he said.

"I think, more importantly, the players have a belief and the staff have a belief in the players that they are capable.

"A top-10 finish would be huge but we have to make sure our first goal is to establish ourselves in the Premier League."
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