Leicester City desperate to capitalise

Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has set his sights on keeping the newly promoted Foxes in the English Premier League as long as possible.

Having won the Championship title, Leicester, owned by Thailand’s duty free retailer King Power Group, will play in the top flight next season.

“My goal is for Leicester to stay in the Premier League as long as possible. We should be able to stay there for at least two or three years and then my next goal will be taking the team to the top five or six in the Premier League,” King Power boss Vichai told yesterday’s press conference.

“It will be a difficult task but we have to try to do it.”

Vichai said he bought the Foxes when they were in the Championship because he wanted the challenge of guiding them to the highest level.

“When we bought Leicester City four years ago, many people asked me why we did not buy a Premier League club and I told them that it was not a challenge for me,” he said.

“Buying a Championship team was more challenging. My goal was to take them to the Premier League and we are now in the Premier League.

“Playing in the Premier League will be another challenging task for the team and the players but we have plans.”

Leicester players and officials are in Thailand for vacation and will return to England on Wednesday.

Asked if he planned to bring Thai players to play for Leicester, Vichai said some Thai players may be good enough but securing work permits to play in England would be a problem.

He said Leicester had accepted several young Thai players to train at their academy.

“We will find at least 10 Thai players to train at our academy in the upcoming season,” he said.

“If they are good enough, then they may have a chance to play for our team.”

Vichai added: “Leicester City are not King Power’s team — they are a team for all Thais. I hope Thai fans support Leicester and make them their beloved team.”

Leicester City Nigel Pearson said: “We have fantastic players here with us. Next season in the Premier League will be an important season for our team. We have to improve everything to survive in the Premier League.”

Meanwhile, Derby County on Sunday swept into the Championship play-off final as their 4-1 win over Brighton in the semi-final second leg sealed a 6-2 aggregate victory.

Steve McClaren’s team had taken a significant step on the road to Wembley with their 2-1 win in the first leg at the Amex Stadium on Thursday.

And the Rams finished the job in ruthless fashion in front of their jubilant supporters at the iPro Stadium.

Will Hughes opened the scoring in the first half and strikes from Chris Martin, George Thorne and Jeff Hendrick after the interval capped an eye-catching display from hosts.

In the final on May 24, Derby will face QPR or Wigan, who played the second leg of their semi-final at Loftus Road last night after a goalless first leg.

Kazenga LuaLua got one back for Brighton in the final moments, but they were left with a familiar feeling of frustration after losing in the semi-finals for the second straight year. Bangkok Post/AFP

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