Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers is confident the “irreplaceable” Jamie Vardy has “a lot more left in the tank yet”.
Vardy, who has netted 14 times in all competitions this season but only once in his last 13 appearances, turned 34 in January.
Ahead of injury-hit Leicester’s trip to Brighton on Saturday, Rodgers was asked if he felt it was coming to the point where the Foxes might need another forward that plays Vardy’s role for times when he wants to give him some rest.
And the manager said: “That time comes to all players, not just Jamie.
“(He is) an incredible servant for the club, and for me he still has a big, big contribution to make for us over this season and the next couple of seasons.
“There’s no doubt, for the number of games we play, and the demands that is put on players…of course he is not going to be able to play to that rhythm and that same style every single game.
“It’s something that we’re well on the understanding of within the club, and for every player in each position you are having to plan forward. Our idea in the summer will be to strengthen the squad again.
“For Jamie, it’s been unfortunate that we haven’t been able to take him out so much recently. He returned (in February) from the injury he had and he’s virtually had to come in and play a lot of the games, where ideally, because of the situation we’re in, we wouldn’t want to or had to have done that.
“But he always makes himself available, he’s still such a threat, and I’ve always said about Jamie – even when he’s not in the game, he’s always there because it only takes one moment of his quality and brilliance to gain a goal.
“Whilst he’s on the field, even if he’s not contributing so much, the defenders are always aware of his qualities. I still think he’s a lot more left in the tank yet.”
When then asked about trying to replace Vardy, whose haul of over 100 Premier League goals for Leicester includes 24 in their 2015-16 title-winning campaign, Rodgers said: “For me he is irreplaceable.
“You cannot find anyone there. It is so unique, his story, his qualities and what he has given to Leicester City in the Premier League.
“It is totally unique, so to try to find someone to replace – you see it on lots of occasions, ‘can you find the replica of that type of player?’
“For us, it’s more about the actual profile of what we want. I’ll always look to have speed at the top of the field, but are there other attributes that we would look for?
“But to try to replace him – it’s impossible. He’s such a unique player with a unique story, and I’m glad it’s that way as well.”
The last two games have seen Leicester start with Vardy joined in the attack by Kelechi Iheanacho, whose superb volley in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley made it three goals for the Nigeria international in his last six appearances in all competitions.
Rodgers said: “I think Kelechi’s been great. He’s had little spells of course when maybe his confidence has been down, but we’ve tried to always encourage him.
“You’ll do well to see a goal much better than that (he scored on Wednesday). The technique involved was incredible. He made it look very easy, but that ball over your head, on the volley, when you can’t see it all the way, to hit it that cleanly shows his quality.
“I’ve been really pleased with his contribution.”
Third-placed Leicester have seven players unavailable for Saturday’s fixture due to injury – Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, Ayoze Perez, Dennis Praet, Jonny Evans, James Justin and Wes Morgan.