Dean Smith says survival is ‘achievable’ after taking on Leicester challenge

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Dean Smith says he can keep Leicester in the Premier League after being appointed as manager until the end of the season.

Former Aston Villa boss Smith, who has been out of work since leaving Norwich earlier this season, will oversee the final eight games of the campaign following the sacking of Brendan Rodgers last week.

The Foxes have lost both games since Rodgers left, leaving them second-bottom and in real danger of dropping into the second tier.

They turned to the 52-year-old having seen a move for former Leeds boss Jesse Marsch collapse over the weekend and Smith will be assisted by Craig Shakespeare and John Terry.

Smith, who will take training for the first time on Tuesday ahead of the weekend visit to Manchester City, said: “I’m really happy to have the opportunity to lead the team during these final weeks of the season.

“The challenge in front of us is clear, but it’s one myself and my coaching team have experienced before and, with the quality in this squad and the number of games remaining, it’s very much achievable.

“Our first job is to rebuild confidence and instil belief in the team and I’m looking forward to getting to work with the players this week.

“If it was something that I thought was unsurmountable, I wouldn’t have come – and Shakey and JT wouldn’t have come also.

Smith kept Aston Villa up in the Premier League in 2019/20
Smith kept Aston Villa up in the Premier League in 2019/20 (Nick Potts/PA)

“We’ll be putting demands on the players and on ourselves. We’ll be spending every minute of every day making sure we work hard to keep this football club in the Premier League.”

Smith was able to keep Villa up in their first season back in the Premier League and did so in similar circumstances over a short period of time, when the 2019/20 season resumed after the coronavirus lockdown.

And chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha is hoping for something similar.

He said: “His leadership, coaching and motivational qualities will be vital assets for us in the coming eight games as we fight to secure our Premier League status.

“We’ve endured a challenging season, but I have no doubt that we have the quality in our squad to win this fight.

“Dean’s experience will be key to unlocking that potential, helping the team rediscover its confidence and channelling the support of our fans, who will be so important during these final eight games.”

Smith and Shakespeare worked together at Carrow Road and Villa, while Shakespeare had a brief spell as manager at the King Power Stadium in 2017, having been assistant to Claudio Ranieri when the Foxes won a stunning Premier League title in 2016.

Terry was part of Smith’s backroom staff at Villa.

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