Leicester City midfielder Nampalys Mendys injury-plagued start to life in English football continues unabated after manager Claudio Ranieri revealed his summer signing faces the prospect of a further four or five weeks out after undergoing a procedure on his ankle.
The 24-year-old was earmarked as a replacement for compatriot NGolo Kante following his £13m ($15.8m) move from Nice in July, yet ongoing fitness issues have prevented him from making any sort of swift impact for the defending Premier League champions.
Mendy made his debut from the substitutes bench in August as a second-half replacement for Danny Simpson in a 2-1 Community Shield defeat to Manchester United at Wembley, while his first Premier League appearance in the goalless draw with Arsenal 13 days later was curtailed by an ankle knock.
The former France youth international was believed to be in contention to make his return against Southampton prior to the recent international break, yet he failed to feature either in that match or in Saturdays (15 October) heavy loss at Chelsea. He is now set to miss at least another month after a training setback.
Mendy was unlucky, Ranieri was quoted as saying by the club at a press conference held in advance of tomorrow nights (18 October) Champions League Group G clash with Danish champions FC Copenhagen. After the last training session he had a little surgery to clean a fragment of the bone.
While Mendy remains absent, Leicester will welcome back Shinji Okazaki, who missed the disappointing 3-0 defeat to Kantes new side at Stamford Bridge. The tireless striker was rested after featuring for Japan in their recent 2018 World Cup qualifying victory over Iraq and, although left on the bench for the subsequent draw with Australia in Melbourne, he was omitted by his club after a typically comedic rant from Ranieri in which he claimed that Okazaki is not the same player when he returns from such lengthy journeys.
The Foxes lined up at Chelsea with influential Algerian duo Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani as subs, a decision seemingly made with Tuesday evening in mind. Both are now expected to return to the starting XI as competition debutants Leicester, who have endured a hugely difficult start to their title defence with just eight points from eight games, look to maintain their 100% Champions League record at the King Power Stadium following wins over Club Brugge and FC Porto.
The Champions League is now, he added. In one month, we are in or out. I wanted to save some players for tomorrow evening. Copenhagen are solid, strong and good in the air. From us, it must be our best performance of the season. Tomorrow we have to be strong. We must play with passion and heart because they will fight until the end.