The fifth and final position battle looks at the Leicester City strikers – who is more likely to start up front on Saturday?
1. Jamie Vardy v. Jermaine Beckford
This is undoubtedly the biggest question mark in terms of position battles ahead of Leicester City’s opening game against Peterborough on Saturday, and last night’s 4-0 Capital One Cup win at Torquay United did nothing to answer who would start alongside David Nugent. Jermaine Beckford and Jamie Vardy were both named in the starting eleven, while Nugent was rested. On top of that, Martyn Waghorn, Jeff Schlupp and new signing Marko Futacs have been involved during pre-season for the Foxes. With Nigel Pearson likely to utilise two wingers in a 4-4-2 formation, only two strikers can start. This either gives Pearson a selection headache, or considerable depth in this position, depending on your outlook.
Jamie Vardy was Leicester’s most expensive summer transfer, joining the Foxes from Fleetwood Town for a reported £1 million. His goal-scoring record in the lower leagues speaks for itself, and he wouldn’t be the first player to learn his trade there and replicate it at a higher level. Fans have already warmed to Vardy, and he is certainly a very typical Nigel Pearson player. Jermaine Beckford, on the other hand, was already at the club when Pearson re-joined Leicester at the end of 2011. He scored fifteen goals last season, yet fans never seemed completely sold on him. That being said, Beckford has featured heavily in pre-season and been finding the net himself. He also appeared to have developed a good partnership with David Nugent by the end of last season.
One scenario that does not seem to have been considered by Foxes fans is Nigel Pearson using the three strikers in rotation. The Championship season is long, and the addition of League and FA Cup matches could result in 55+ matches for Leicester City. With three strikers of such high quality, all with a keen eye for goal, we can certainly expect to see them kept fresh – especially as Pearson has the managerial skills to bring out the best in all three players. Barring injuries, Nugent, Vardy and Beckford could all play at least thirty games this season (not including substitute appearances), and having a player of such calibre as an option off the bench would boast real strength in numbers at the club.
Likely winner: Jermaine Beckford is probably more likely to start on Saturday alongside David Nugent, but Jamie Vardy will certainly be named among the substitutes, and will more than likely make his home debut before the end of the match. Throughout the duration of the season, it really is too close to call as to which player will start more matches.