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Ranieri urges Vardy, Mahrez to raise game

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Leicester City’s Italian manager Claudio Ranieri (L) gestures as he talks with Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy (R) on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Hull City and Leicester City at the KCOM Stadium in Kingston upon Hull, north east England on August 13, 2016. PHOTO: Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri wants Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez to rediscover their form from the club’s title-winning season as the champions battle to remain in the Premier League.

Vardy scored 24 goals and Mahrez 17 as Leicester surged to the title last season, but they have contributed only five and three goals respectively this term.

With the champions just a point above the relegation zone ahead of Sunday’s trip to fellow strugglers Swansea City, Ranieri has held talks with the pair in a bid to get them firing again.

“I have spoken with Riyad and I have spoken with Jamie and we know,” Ranieri told a pre-match press conference at Leicester’s King Power Stadium on Friday.

“They link together well. If you see how many goals they scored and how many passes they made last season, but this time no.

“I say to Riyad: ‘Come back to last season, come back.’ He is trying and he is positive and I am very happy when he is positive.

“I look at him smiling and that is OK. He is very important and now he is very concentrated on the last part of the season. I am very hopeful.

“Jamie works hard for the team, but this season we have scored very few goals and scoring three goals in one match (against Derby County in the FA Cup on Wednesday) was amazing and I hope this is good for the future.”

Leicester have lost their last four league games without scoring and risk becoming England’s first defending champions to be relegated since Manchester City in 1938.

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