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Kelechi Iheanacho buoyed by double act with Jamie Vardy and goalscoring form

The Nigeria international followed up his leveller in the midweek draw at Burnley by scoring Leicester’s equaliser at Brighton.

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Kelechi Iheanacho, left, has been back up for Jamie Vardy for much of his Leicester career (Neil Hall/PA)

Kelechi Iheanacho, left, has been back up for Jamie Vardy for much of his Leicester career (Neil Hall/PA)

Kelechi Iheanacho, left, has been back up for Jamie Vardy for much of his Leicester career (Neil Hall/PA)

Leicester forward Kelechi Iheanacho is confident he can step out of Jamie Vardy’s shadow after continuing his fine goal-scoring form in the comeback win at relegation-threatened Brighton.

Iheanacho has played second fiddle to star man Vardy for the majority of his Foxes career but the pair are currently playing together due to a plethora of injury problems.

The Nigeria international followed up his leveller in the midweek draw at Burnley by equalising in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at the Amex Stadium to claim his seventh strike of the campaign in all competitions, including four in his last seven outings.

With Vardy enduring a prolonged barren run in front of goal, Iheanacho now has as many goals from open play this season as his high-profile team-mate.

Asked what it is like to be back up for last season’s Premier League golden boot winner, he replied: “It’s a bit difficult for the manager because he needs to use everybody, and then we have to have an impact.

“I need to wait for my time but I’m confident with how things are going right now. I just have to keep working hard and keep taking the opportunities.

“I like playing with him (Vardy) because he can run in behind and gives me options, or he can get the ball and go deep. I like playing with him but when he’s not around I can play by myself.

“I’m happy with the goals that are coming now. I feel good.”

After failing to score on the south coast, former England striker Vardy – whose 14 goals this term include seven penalties – has registered just once in his last 14 appearances.

Iheanacho latched on to a sublime pass from Youri Tielemans to lift the ball over Robert Sanchez and cancel out Adam Lallana’s opener in Sussex.

Daniel Amartey headed a late winner to boost the high-flying Foxes’ hopes of a top-four finish.

Iheanacho has been afforded greater playing time in recent weeks due to eight players currently being sidelined, including key attacking trio Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and Ayoze Perez.

The 24-year-old wants to make the absentees “proud” as the Foxes chase Champions League qualification.

“We have injuries but we have players who can do the job, so we just need to keep our heads up and be hungry,” he said.

“We have so many quality players, these players are massive, we really miss them and all of their individual qualities.

“We need to come out and represent them so well, so that when they watch from home they are proud of us and so we are in a good place when they recover and come back.”

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has previously spoken of the difficult nature of Iheanacho’s deputy role behind “irreplaceable” Vardy, while Match of the Day host Gary Lineker expressed his admiration for the former Manchester City man, describing him as “underrated”.

Rodgers has been delighted by the player’s recent influence.

“He’s come up trumps in a lot of the games recently. His contribution was outstanding (on Saturday),” said the manager.

“When he intensified his game, he played quicker and the finish was absolutely superb, and that is the level of confidence he is at.

“He worked really hard for the team, pressed the game well and his contribution was valuable to us.”

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