The penultimate position battle will focus again on the back line – and outlines why three defenders into two positions doesn’t add up.
2. Zak Whitbread v. Liam Moore
Because Foxes academy product Liam Moore is strictly a full-back, and former Norwich and Millwall defender Zak Whitbread (like Ritchie De Laet) can play either on the right side or at centre-back, there is certainly a position battle to be observed here. In fact, there are two. Lee Peltier’s departure to Championship rivals Leeds United leaves the right-back spot wide open, with Moore the only recognised naturally right-sided player at the club. The main concern here is that Whitbread and De Laet are both able to play in multiple positions, and if the argument is that De Laet was also brought in as cover for right back, then that leaves Leicester short at centre-back until Sean St. Ledger returns from injury. It appears as though Nigel Pearson is happy to stick with De Laet and Whitbread to fill in, but, essentially, there are two slots to be filled by three players, if you consider that Wes Morgan and Paul Konchesky should start almost every game in defence this season barring any injuries (Tom Kennedy provides additional depth at left-back).
However, if Liam Moore isn’t considered a first-team player, despite arguably being the most recognised right-back for Leicester, it will not do much for his confidence. Nigel Pearson could send him out on loan again (Moore appeared 22 times for Bradford City last season after making just two starts for the Foxes) which would allow him to receive more playing time, but he obviously sees potential in the 19-year-old. Moore started the final friendly against Sunderland which probably wasn’t too far off the starting line-up Pearson could field against Peterborough United on Saturday. He is a big, physical opponent who could be the long-term answer at right-back for Leicester.
Likely winner: Whitbread (and De Laet) will probably start in defence on the opening game of the season if he is fit to play – although due to the lack of senior cover in defence, Nigel Pearson will probably be reluctant to let Liam Moore go out on loan. Don’t be surprised if the youngster receives a few opportunities this season (perhaps initially in the League Cup); he certainly has the ability to break into the first team and cement a place in the starting eleven. He may just need to bide his time.