Work ethic holds key for Leicester, says Dickov

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The Independent Football

Paul Dickov, the Leicester striker, is expecting to be on the receiving end of at least one heavy defeat this season but he remains confident that his team will continue to defy the critics.

Leicester took many by surprise at the Walkers Stadium on Monday night with a 4-0 demolition of Leeds which suggested they are far from relegation fodder. Micky Adams' side moved out of the bottom three on the back of their first win of the season and up to the giddy heights of 11th, although they now face a reality check.

The Foxes travel to Liverpool on Saturday before welcoming Manchester United, with the two-goal hero Dickov appreciating that City could have done to them what they did to Leeds.

"We've set ourselves a standard now," the Scotland international said. "When you look at the work-rate from everybody and the team performance, we've got to keep that up throughout the season to give ourselves any sort of chance of staying in the division.

"We've now got to do ourselves justice against Liverpool and Manchester United, but that's what we worked hard all last year for, to get back in the Premiership and play against these world-class teams.

"They're matches to relish. To test yourself against the best - and don't get me wrong, because you can be on the end of a hiding and it's going to happen throughout the season - that's what football is all about at the end of the day.

"I'm under no illusion as to how hard it's going to be, but as long as we show the same commitment and work as hard as we did on Monday then we will do all right. We will just give it our best shot, as we did against Leeds and in the previous games, because that's what we're about.

"We're a team that works our socks off and as long as we keep doing that, and doing the things the manager wants us to do, then we will give ourselves a chance."

Dickov proved a point to the Scotland coach, Berti Vogts, with an excellent performance against Leeds. The striker had scored his first international goal in Scotland's 3-1 European Championship win over the Faroe Islands but was then dropped for the 2-1 defeat in Germany.

After Lilian Nalis volleyed home a remarkable 29-yard left-foot cracker, Dickov then scored with a fine volley of his own minutes later to leave Leicester coasting midway through the first half.

Dickov and James Scowcroft then completed a remarkable night for Leicester with goals in the final 10 minutes as they put behind them their miserable display in the 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa.

"The criticism following that game spurred us on, but we gave ourselves plenty of criticism because we were very disappointed with what happened at Villa," Dickov added. "We wanted to put that right and thankfully we did, while for me personally, scoring the two goals makes me very happy.

"I got my first international goal last week, but I was then disappointed to have been left out for the next game. It was a bit of a blow for me. So I was just determined to come back and do it for my club. I enjoyed it. I'm feeling confident and sharp, so to get the goals I'm delighted."

The Leeds manager, Peter Reid, has conceded it is now back to square one as the club were not able to build on the hard work that secured their first victory of the season, at Middlesbrough two weeks ago.

The 4-0 scoreline at the Walkers Stadium was a true reflection of a match after which Reid stated Leeds were "second best all over the pitch". They certainly looked disorganised and missed their captain, Dominic Matteo.

Reid was also left wondering whether he made a mistake in playing the Brazil World Cup winner Roque Junior after just one training session.

It was Leeds' worst League defeat for two-and-a-half years and the scoreline would have been far worse had it not been for some good saves from the goalkeeper, Paul Robinson.

Reid included five of his loan signings in the starting line-up, with a sixth on the bench, so perhaps it was not unsurprising that the team played like a bunch of strangers.

But the winger Jermaine Pennant has vowed that Leeds will not crumble following the defeat. Pennant, himself on a two-month loan from Arsenal, believes the new line-up was not the reason behind Leeds' sudden demise.

"I don't think it was really a case of too many new players not having time to gel," Pennant said. "The only really new player in the starting line-up was Roque Junior. I know he had only just arrived, but that's just one player and I don't think it made a difference it was his first game.

"In the game at Boro we managed to get the three points, so I think this was just one of those days when nothing really went right for us.

"Obviously, we didn't expect to lose 4-0, but I'm sure it's one of those things. Now all we want to do is put it behind us and work towards Saturday.

"We're all disappointed. We've just got to pick ourselves up and we'll bounce back against Birmingham."