'Surprised' Appleton calls for Foxes focus after Shakespeare sacking

Riyad Mahrez scored Leicester's equaliser against West Brom

Craig Shakespeare affirmed his belief in Leicester City's ability to climb back up the Premier League in his first statement since being sacked as manager. The decision to relieve Shakespeare of his duties only four months into a three-year contract has been greeted with a mixture of surprise and disappointment inside the club, leaving the board facing a backlash from within.

Manchester-born Appleton, brought in by Shakespeare as assistant manager in June, said: "I'll be an absolute hypocrite if I said any differently".

"They've lost someone they respected highly and someone they also get along with very well", said Appleton, 41.

"Craig Shakespeare needs everyone behind him, players, staff and more importantly the people above just to show a little bit of patience with him to come through this hard period".

Shakespeare won half of his 16 games in temporary charge last season after replacing Claudio Ranieri in February, doing enough to win over the Srivaddhanaprabha family for a crack at the job full time.

Although Leicester are third from bottom with only six points from eight matches, Appleton said he had no inkling whatsoever that Shakespeare was under pressure and claimed that the "feeling within the camp is that there wasn't much wrong".

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"It's not the first time I've been linked elsewhere, but they are paper stories and I'm focused on what we try to achieve here."

Wales manager Chris Coleman, Burnley boss Sean Dyche and former England chief Sam Allardyce are reportedly among the British candidates.

'In a way, you're flattered because it's some form of recognition.

"I don't believe there is unrest". But collectively they're a very strong group with a very strong manager, with his know-how of the top players.

"These players want to win games, they want to win games of football for their manager, and if what's happened over the last couple of days is the motivation that they need to get the three points, then great".

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