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Puel’s ‘perfect’ start and his justified faith in Demarai Gray

Dom Holt assesses Claude Puel’s ‘perfect’ start, and why the new Leicester City manager’s faith in English youth prospect Demarai Gray was rewarded on Sunday.

Leicester’s 2-0 win over was described by newly appointed boss Puel as the ‘perfect’ way to start his campaign, and whilst Everton showed greater attacking intent under caretaker manager David Unsworth, it was Leicester who took all three points at the King Power on Sunday.

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Leicester dominated spells of the first half and were able to break out from Everton’s pressure showing some slick counter-attacking football. Although some Leicester fans may have been surprised by Craig Shakespeare’s dismissal, he will soon be forgotten if Puel’s boys produce more results like this.

A change in squad selection?

Leicester fans may have also been surprised to see Demarai Gray’s name in the starting eleven. The English youngster had impressed at Birmingham in the Championship before his move and also at the England youth teams, featuring frequently at that level. Ben Chilwell also featured and showed a mature approach to his performance starting ahead of Albrighton.

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With England’s recent performances at competitions for the under-20s and now the under-17s there has never been a greater moment to give the upcoming prospects the opportunity that they deserve. The French manager seems to understand this and granted Gray his first start of the season.

Gray did not disappoint. He played with composure, showed skill and most of all a desire to make himself a permanent feature of the starting team. He was vital to Leicester’s first goal helping the Foxes break out from the back running the length of the pitch before slotting a through ball into Mahrez who assisted Vardy. He then saw his cross deflected in from Everton youngster Kenny that the FA rules deem to be Gray’s goal.

Gray will be hoping his performance sees him back in the squad for their next fixture to prove himself once again. His performance is something that should not only excite Leicester fans but England fans also. As a prospect for the national team, everyone should want to see more of Demarai Gray.

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Hopefully managers who see plays like Gray performing at such a high level will want to give young English prospects more of a chance. Since winning the under-20s World Cup only a handful of those players have played week in week out for their clubs. If England are to have a better chance at the senior national competitions it is these kind of players that need to be getting top flight first team football. Gray and other players like him could be the start of a bright future for English football, provided they are given the pedestal to perform, and it would appear Puel is prepared to do just that.

Written by Dom Holt.

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