Angst prompts Adams to give players day off

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The Independent Football

Leicester City's players were unexpectedly given a day off yesterday after the club's manager, Micky Adams, sensed that their minds were not on their preparations for Saturday's fixture at Birmingham.

Leicester City's players were unexpectedly given a day off yesterday after the club's manager, Micky Adams, sensed that their minds were not on their preparations for Saturday's fixture at Birmingham.

While the Premiership club await legal developments in Spain, where Paul Dickov, Frank Sinclair and Keith Gillespie have now spent seven nights in Murcia's Sangonera La Verde jail on charges of sexual assault, Adams admitted he was twice forced to halt training on Tuesday. As a result he had decided to cancel yesterday's session to relieve the pressure on the remainder of the squad.

Leicester, lying second from bottom and without a win in 15 matches, returned to the practice pitch on Monday after their ill-fated trip to La Manga a week earlier. Adams' involvement was minimal because he had to address a press conference about the imprisoned players. When he took training 24 hours later, it was evident that the minds of their colleagues and friends were elsewhere.

"It was always going to be difficult to return to football matters,"Adams said. "I had to stop the training session a few times because I could see that they were not right. There is definitely an undercurrent in the squad and I stopped the work to re-emphasise the responsibilities we still owe to this club and the fans about keeping ourselves in the Premiership.

"I did think about training them every day but I thought it was best to send them away and then come back in the right frame of mind."

However, Adams is determined not to let the distracted mood of his team carry over into the Premiership at St Andrew's against a fifth-placed Birmingham side managed by his former Gillingham team-mate Steve Bruce. "There can be no excuses when they cross that line on to the pitch," he said. "People are not interested in excuses."

His suggestion on Monday that Dickov, Sinclair and Gillespie were guilty of nothing more than being "unprofessional" by drinking "to a certain amount of excess" had led to Adams being condemned as weak in some quarters. He admitted that he had found his media interrogation difficult, saying: "It was an ordeal I don't ever want to ever to repeat.

"I realised that I'd get criticised for some of the things I said, but I had to be careful of what I said for legal reasons. We seem to have heard only one side of the story so far. I've got to be seen to be protecting the players, who are still innocent until proven guilty."

Leicester have dismissed reports that the club's main sponsors, Alliance & Leicester, want to terminate their relationship because of events in Spain. Paul Mace, Leicester City's chief operating officer, described the financial institution as "a long-standing friend of the club" that had been "very supportive".

Other corporate backers, including the stadium sponsors, Walkers Crisps, had also been briefed about developments, he said.

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