For months Ranieri has refused to discuss his team’s chances of lifting the trophy but at last, with four games left and Champions League qualification secured, he opened up.
‘We are in the Champions League, dilly ding, dilly dong. It’s fantastic, terrific,’ said the Italian. ‘Well done to everybody. It’s a great achievement.
‘And now we go straight away to try to win the title. Mauricio (Pochettino), keep calm! I talked with my players, “Come on, now is the right moment to push”.
‘I believe. They believe. It is difficult but we have everything in our hands. That doesn’t mean we win, it means we believe we can do it.
‘Now is the last part of the race. We have to push a lot with our heart and soul. Carry on and keep going, smiling and fight.
‘I am a positive man, if Spurs go above us, congratulations. I prefer my position to Spurs. They win all their matches it is not important, it is important what we do. If we win the title it will be unbelievable.’
Leicester will have to do without Vardy for at least tomorrow’s home game against Swansea after the 22-goal striker was sent off against West Ham.
Leonardo Ulloa is likely to start in a straight swap for Vardy but pacy wide man Jeff Schlupp is also an option.
‘Without Jamie we have to make some other strategy,’ said Ranieri. ‘Leo deserves to play but before Leo there is a team. I think about what is best for the team.’
Increased focus will be on PFA Player of the Year favourite Riyad Mahrez to produce the defining moments. ‘Riyad is our light,’ said Ranieri. ‘When he switches on we change colour.’
Pochettino, whose Tottenham side are almost at full strength, ramped up the pressure on the leaders with his praise for Vardy.
‘I think that it’s a big impact for Leicester because Vardy is one of the best players in the Premier League,’ said the Argentine.
‘Leicester have very good players and are in a position that they deserve to be. I’m sure they have different players that can play the same way (as Vardy).’ Tottenham narrowed the gap at the top to five points with a 4-0 win at Stoke, and next face West Bromwich Albion at home on Monday. That is followed a week later by a clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Blues midfielder Cesc Fabregas, formerly of Arsenal, said this week he hoped Tottenham did not win the league.
The Blues are still to face both title chasers and would be loath to see their rivals take their crown. But Pochettino is convinced Chelsea won’t do Leicester any favours.
‘I believe that in football the players are professional, the managers are professional,’ he said.
Tottenham’s 24-goal hitman Harry Kane will miss the PFA awards tomorrow night because of Monday’s match.
Kane is one of only two survivors from last season’s team of the year, along with Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.
‘Harry Kane is one of the best strikers in the world and he has proved that it wasn’t only one season,’ he said. ‘We never had any doubts about him. From day one we knew that he would achieve everything because his mentality, passion and hunger are fantastic.’
Original source: 'We can win title… even without Vardy'