Leicester City in relegation fight admits Claudio Ranieri after Sunderland close gap to champions

Jamie Vardy: Dejected striker can't find net

Jamie Vardy: Dejected striker can't find net

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Manager of the year Claudio Ranieri admitted Leicester CIty are in a relegation battle after losing 2-1 at Sunderland.

The champions have the worst away record in the Premier League and are now just two points above the relegation zone.

“I think now there are a lot of teams involved in the battle and if you win twice, you are out," said Ranieri.

But asked if the Foxes are one of the teams he referred to, he said: “Yes, I know, I know.”

The Italian has led Leicester to the last 16 of the Champions League, but domestically he says "everything is wrong".

"It's difficult," said the 65-year-old, whose side were beaten by a Robert Huth OG and a Jermain Defoe goal.

"Everything last season was right, starting with luck; this season, everything is wrong.

"But we must continue to work hard and maintain the right balance in ourselves, believe in ourselves. The battle is long, but that's football, sport.

"There are good moments, bad moments and in the bad moments, we must stay together as we are."

It was Leicester's fifth Premier defeat immediately before a Champions League fixture but he denied the players are trying harder in Europe,

"Look, I think we play at the same level in the Champions League and the Premier League," he added.

"But in the Premier League, the first opportunity for the opponent, they score a goal and we have missed chances.

"In the Champions League, it is different. Maybe the opponents miss a chance and we score a goal.

"It's difficult to explain, but it's the reality because our strength, our effort are the same."

Much of Leicester's success last season was based on Jamie Vardy's goals, and the striker has now gone 16 games for the club, 10 of them in the league, without finding the back of the net, although his manager is not unduly concerned.

Ranieri said: "Look, for me, he works well, hard. Of course the goals are important, but I believe in him and sooner or later, he will start to score goals."

The main difference for the Foxes would appear to be the changre in fortunes for Vardy who 12 months ago was a record breaker and now he's failed to score since September 10.

Vardy missed with two headers at the Stadium of Light but his manager gave a staunch defence of the England forward.

"Of course the goals are important," said Ranieri. "But I believe in him and sooner or later, he will start to score goals."