You only had to see the replays to know that Wesley Fofana is likely to be out for a long time. A shocking challenge from Villarreal’s Fer Nino in a pre-season friendly caused the Leicester City defender to crumple in agony, and it was clear from Fofana’s reaction that it was a serious situation.
Unfortunately, the news is not good. Fofana suffered a fractured fibula, which is likely to keep him out of action for a number of months. It’s an early blow to Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester, who this season will be trying to make up for the agonising failures of the last two campaigns – missing out on Champions League qualification on the final day in two successive years.
This season, Leicester are again being tipped in the Betdaq Premier League odds as outside contenders for a top-four finish, but they’ll need to avoid the kind of late-season decline that has plagued them in the last two campaigns. Fofana was one of their brightest stars last term, taking to the Premier League like a duck to water, and it’s a shame that he won’t be there to help provide the defensive solidity Leicester need to contend.
Arriving at the King Power Stadium as a 19-year-old last summer, Fofana’s performances belied his tender age. He struck up an excellent relationship with fellow defenders Jonny Evans and Çağlar Söyüncü, and Rodgers was able to switch between a back five and a back four thanks to Fofana’s versatility. The only hope will be that this leg break does not hinder the Frenchman’s progression and development.
Defensive solidity has always been an area where Rodgers has struggled as a coach. Last season, Leicester conceded 50 goals, the second-worst total of any team in the top half of the Premier League table, and unless Rodgers can shore things up defensively this season, it’s hard to see how they can really challenge the Premier League’s elite. Fofana’s injury only adds further doubt to Leicester’s defensive capabilities.
The FA Cup win last season was a tangible waypoint in Leicester’s rise towards being considered as one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs. Now, the next natural step is qualifying for the Champions League, but with so many teams likely to be competitive at the top end of the table this season, the Foxes will certainly have their work cut out.
Fofana is the kind of player who would have given them an edge with his speed and composure, but now Rodgers will need to find solutions. Timothy Castagne offers versatility in that he can fill in at either right-back or centre-back, while James Justin and Luke Thomas will also give Leicester more options to shift things around. The departure of Christian Fuchs and the retirement of Wes Morgan means that Leicester have slightly fewer defensive options this season, although they have brought in Ryan Bertrand from Southampton.
The key now is finding a way to keep themselves in contention until Fofana’s return, and then Rodgers will have his first-choice defence available to him. There are injury setbacks in every campaign, and Leicester will need to show resilience and prove that they can still challenge for the top four even without one of their best defenders.