Claudio Ranieri plans wholesale changes when ‘underdogs’ Leicester face Millwall

February 16 2017, 10.53pmUpdated: February 17 2017, 7.17am
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Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri believes the Premier League champions are the underdogs heading into Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Millwall.

Ranieri’s side sit 33 places above the Sky Bet League One Lions, who are unbeaten in their last 12 games and beat Bournemouth and Watford to make the fifth round, but the Foxes – 17th in the table – have lost their last five league games and failed to score in the top flight in their last six games.

And the Italian, whose second-string side squeezed past Derby 3-1 after extra time in a fourth-round replay, is prepared to risk seeing the season lurch to a new low by making wholesale changes.

“I make a lot of changes,” he said. “All my team is new and there will be 10 changes again. Millwall have beaten two Premier League teams. We know this and we are underdogs. If they beat Bournemouth and Watford, they are above us.

“Our target is the Premier League – that is it. Of course we play in the FA Cup and Champions League and we want to do our best, but our aim is to be safe at the end. The goal is the Premier League. I want to give another opportunity to the players who played against Derby for them to show how good they are.

“Believe me, I don’t think about Sevilla (in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday), I think about Millwall.

“Our focus is on Millwall because they are in good shape. They beat Bournemouth and Watford. From December 17, they don’t lose and they score goals. Everything is fantastic (for them). They fight. We know everything and we are positive.”

But Ranieri dismissed further fears over his selection and reckons the players he does pick can prove themselves, having reverted back to his first team only for them to lose 2-0 at Swansea on Sunday.

“It’s a great opportunity for our players. I could change it all on Saturday and change it all again for Sevilla and then again for Liverpool match,” said the Italian, who is without the injured Islam Slimani and is also likely to miss Leonardo Ulloa (thigh).

“It’s my responsibility. I always put the best team on the pitch every time.

“Who says if Ranieri put same team who won against Derby maybe we would win against Swansea?”

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