London (AFP) – Brendan Rodgers says shamed Leicester trio James Maddison, Ayoze Perez and Hamza Choudhury can earn redemption on the pitch after their coronavirus breach as he prepares his side for an FA Cup semi-final against Southampton.
Rodgers axed the three players for last weekend’s 3-2 Premier League defeat to West Ham after they broke Covid-19 protocols by attending a party at Perez’s house.
But the Leicester boss said they were back in contention for Sunday’s semi-final and had a chance to restore their damaged reputations.
“That is what they are very determined to do,” he said. “These guys have made a great contribution for us, we are also in the position we are because of them.
“They made a mistake and in football there will be a choice again, at some point in their careers, and hopefully they’ll make a better choice.
“We always have to look forward and it’s in the past. The best way they can do that as a player is by their actions on the field.”
Leicester, who are third in the Premier League table, will start as favourites against Southampton despite a recent wobble and Rodgers said it was crucial to keep calm.
The 2016 Premier League champions have reached four FA Cup finals in their history but have never won the trophy. They last reached the final in 1969.
“In these moments that ability to have that self control is very important,” said the Northern Irishman. “When it counts most is when you are under pressure.
“We want to get into the final and we can only do that with performing well. If you overthink it or get nervous it can immobilise you.
“You stay calm, give clarity to the team and then arrive and look to play your game.”
There will be 4,000 spectators at Wembley for Sunday’s match, which is serving as a test event as part of the government’s roadmap out of the coronavirus lockdown.
“The players have done tremendously well to be so competitive (without fans),” said Rodgers. “To have 4,000, it’s a start of getting people back into stadiums and we’ll look forward to seeing them there.”
Chelsea are playing Manchester City in the other semi-final on Saturday.
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