Pep - Kieft settled in seamlessly

Maikel Kieftenbeld in action against Leicester.
Maikel Kieftenbeld in action against Leicester.

You could not have said that Kieftenbeld has not played for almost a year.

Pep Clotet.

Pep Clotet says Maikel Kieftenbeld surprised him with the level of his performance against Leicester City on Wednesday evening.

The midfielder completed 84 minutes against the Premier League outfit, in what was his first start in almost 11 months following a serious knee injury.

The Dutchman showed the 5,000+ Blues fans at the King Power Stadium what they had been missing with a wholehearted and energetic display.

And Clotet says he is looking forward to seeing more of the same during the season run-in.

"His performance convinced me that he's fit and sharp enough to play a part in the remaining games," said Blues' Head Coach.

"My plan was to play him as long as was needed; I would have kept him for the 90 minutes but after they (Leicester) scored I wanted to try to get as offensive as possible.

"That was a tactical sub I didn’t do earlier because away from home against opposition like Leicester you don’t need to anticipate you need to do things at the right moment.

"We were well in the game on the way to extra time when we could have had more chances to go for the game more.

"But when that goal happened, we moved one midfielder.

"I could easily have taken Ivan (Sunjic) out and left Kieftenbeld but I thought that even though he felt very good, coming from the injury let’s build him up.

"Let’s see how he recovers because that’s going to be the detail because he's fit. Does he recover fully that soon? These are the things he is going to improve himself with the months to come.

"But definitely he needs to turn himself into an important man for these last ten games and yesterday you could not have said that Kieftenbeld has not played for almost a year."