July 20, 2024

Leicester City manager Enzo Maresca has explained Harry Souttar’s ongoing absence from the EFL Championship leader’s line-up while hailing the “unbelievable” Socceroos defender.

Souttar has made one league appearance for high-flying Leicester following their relegation from the Premier League, while he has amassed just 175 minutes of action across all competitions in 2023-24.

The 25-year-old Australia international, who was tipped to leave before the start of the campaign, became the most expensive Australian transfer in history when he was signed by Leicester from Stoke City after the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in January, but he quickly found himself on the outer when Brendan Rodgers was sacked and Dean Smith arrived on an caretaker basis.

There were high hopes after Leicester appointed former Manchester City coach Maresca and centre-backs Caglar Soyuncu (Atletico Madrid) and Jonny Evans (Manchester United) departed, however, not much has changed for Souttar.

Souttar, who started both of the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifiers last month, was an unused substitute in Leicester’s 4-0 rout of Plymouth Argyle on Sunday (AEDT) and Maresca discussed the “very simple” reason why he and Patson Daka are not playing for the Foxes.

“To be honest, Pat and Harry, they are unbelievable in terms of, they are very good guys, they are very polite, they train very well,” Maresca said before the match. “The reason why they don’t get minutes is easy.

“First of all, both of them at the beginning of the season, the idea was that they could leave. Then they stayed, it doesn’t matter, we are here and we are going to use them. In general, there is not any issues or any problems with them. They are fantastic. They work good every day.

“The problem with Pat is that we have Kele (Iheanacho) and Jamie (Vardy), and now Tom (Cannon) is back. Kele and Jamie are doing very well. It doesn’t mean that if Pat plays he’s going to do bad, but there are already two players who are doing well.

“Harry is exactly the same. He had the chance against Liverpool and he had the chance against Stoke. He played well. At the same time, Wout (Faes) is doing well, Jannik (Vestergaard) is doing well, Conor (Coady) is another guy… What can we say about Conor? He’s fantastic. For me, he’s an important player, even if he’s not playing.

“But the circumstances and the reason why they’re not playing is very simple. It’s not because I have any problems with them. It’s because there are players who are doing very well. In this case, the only thing you can say is to keep working and waiting for the chance.”

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