LONDON • Jamie Vardy has missed Leicester’s last three games due to a hernia operation and remains a doubt for their Premier League trip to Wolves on Sunday.
But the Foxes have not missed their top scorer as much as pundits had predicted, thanks to the hot form of James Maddison.
The England midfielder created both goals in their 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Fulham on Wednesday as Brendan Rodgers’ side moved up to third in the table, five points behind leaders Manchester City (47), who have played a game fewer.
Maddison has hit a purple patch and his two assists for Kelechi Iheanacho and James Justin mean he has contributed to nine goals in his last eight appearances in all competitions.
The Foxes now have eight wins out of 11 on the road, in contrast to their mixed form at the King Power Stadium, where they have suffered five losses, to stay firmly in contention to qualify for the Champions League for only the second time following their miraculous 2015-16 title triumph.
Defeat at home by Leeds on Saturday ended a seven-match unbeaten top-flight run, so Rodgers was delighted to get back to winning ways at Craven Cottage.
“I thought we were excellent, two outstanding goals. We showed real moments of quality,” the Leicester manager told BBC Sport.
“In the second half, we controlled the game without the ball and managed the game really well. I think the team is maturing – it’s hard physically for players this season.
“We had one shot against us all night which shows the concentration.”
However, Rodgers admitted that one of his priorities in the summer would be to sign an understudy to Vardy, who at 34, is at the tail-end of his career.
James Maddison has scored six goals and provided six assists in his last 12 appearances for Leicester.
“We know Jamie’s age. I still have great confidence in his fitness and his abilities but he can’t do it all on his own. We respect that.
“That’s something that will be continual over the next few months, looking ahead to the summer market,” the Northern Irishman said.
For the third-from-bottom Cottagers, it was yet another damaging defeat and they are now winless in the league in 11 games dating back to November, and are also eight points from safety.
Elsewhere, both West Ham and Everton, in sixth spot, remain in the hunt to qualify for the Champions League for the first time.
Jesse Lingard, making his first league start of the season after joining the Hammers on loan from Manchester United, scored twice in a 3-1 win at Aston Villa.
The Toffees, two points behind fifth-placed Hammers (38) with two games in hand, secured a 2-1 victory at Leeds, thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson and their top scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS