Having prevented £29m Romelu Lukaku scoring yesterday Wes Morgan is hoping to repeat the feat in his second Premier League outing when he faces another high-priced World Cup striker.
Morgan, whose Leicester City team drew 2-2 with Everton yesterday, has taken 13 seasons to reach the top flight and now he is there the 30-year-old aims to make the most of it.
“I enjoyed the summer, but as soon as pre-season came around it was back to business and the realisation we are in the Premier League and need to knuckle down. We are under no illusions. It is not going to be easy, but are not there to make up the numbers. We have to be confident in our ability. We have a good set of lads, a good nucleus and want to show how good we are. I’m looking forward to testing myself against the likes of Diego Costa, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.”
Diego Costa, Chelsea’s £32m recruit from Atletico Madrid, is up next when Leicester go to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Jose Mourinho has suggested that he wants the Spanish international to ‘bully’ opponents. When this was put to Morgan, 6ft 2in and 14 stone, with arms like tattooed tree-trunks, he smiled.
“I prefer the big guys so I am looking forward to that. I am a big guy myself and a player who gives you a physical battle is a challenge I relish. Obviously Costa is a great player. Chelsea have paid a lot of money for him and he has proven what he can do in La Liga. He will definitely be a handful.”
Costa was known for putting himself about in Spain, but Premier League referees tend to let more go than is allowed in La Liga and Morgan hopes that will be the case next weekend. “The tackles and challenges may be a bit firmer here than he is used to in La Liga but I watched him for Spain in the summer, for Atletico Madrid too. He and Pepe had some good battles so I know he likes to give as good as he gets.
“Hopefully the ref will let it go on a bit. Refs seem to be stamping a lot of stuff out now. Even being physical jostling for position seems to be getting taken out of the game. You may have to adjust so you don’t give away silly free kicks.”
The game has changed for centre-halves, as Morgan, a little ruefully, accepts.
“Mick Harford was my manager at one point. I think he has a big scar across his face and I know it is a war wound from games. Back in those days elbows and teeth coming out was part and parcel.
“I have a few scars on my eyebrows and my teeth have been knocked out a couple of times but mainly the referee stamps things out before they happen.
“I’m a relaxed, laid back kind of guy. It’s not very often I see red mist. It’s happened a couple of times. The last time for Leicester was away at Ipswich against Darryl Murphy. I was close to being sent off – I didn’t know whether to go for the player or the referee. The gaffer [Nigel Pearson] told me to calm down or he’d take me off.
“I try to keep calm. Cameras pick up stuff even if it is off the ball. I’m not a pussycat. On the pitch I like to prove a point and get stuck in and show what I am about. People see the size and stature and tend not to bother me too much.”
Morgan is not, however, fearless. Almost predictably he admitted, “I don’t like spiders. If a player had a spider in his hand I would run off. I wouldn’t jump three feet in the air but I tend to let the missus take care of spiders in the bath.”