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 By PA Sport

Ranieri delighted as Leicester perform despite Vardy, Mahrez absences

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri praised his squad players as they earned an FA Cup replay with a draw at Tottenham in the absence of key duo Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.

The Foxes were a little over a minute away from booking their place in the fourth round only for substitute Harry Kane to slam home a late penalty to level the scores at 2-2.

Christian Eriksen had opened the scoring for Spurs in the eighth minute but Leicester struck back through Marcin Wasilewski and substitute Shinji Okazaki.

Kane came off the bench to rescue the hosts, who welcome Ranieri's side back to White Hart Lane on Wednesday night for a top-four Barclays Premier League clash - with their third-round replay at Leicester coming up the following week.

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While Leicester return to north London in a matter of hours, both sides are likely to be much-changed given the fact the visitors made eight alterations for the cup tie, while Tottenham made seven.

And Ranieri was delighted with the performance of his fringe players as Mahrez watched on from the bench and Vardy continues to recover from minor groin surgery.

The pair, who have scored 28 league goals between them so far this campaign to fire Leicester to second in the table, are likely to come back into the side but Ranieri is pleased the replay gives those on the periphery another chance to play.

"Of course we are frustrated because our second half was very good, we were very calm and defended very well," he said.

"It is another match we will play and I'm very glad to give another chance to my eight players who aren't used to playing consistently.

"It is is good for them and me to watch again because they didn't play since the last match we played in the League Cup. Eight new players (in the team) but I didn't see a big difference. They played very, very well."

Claudio Ranieri, left, and Mauricio Pochettino will meet again in the Premier League on Wednesday night.

While Vardy watched on from the stands on Sunday, he should be available on Wednesday night.

"Today he was I think 50/50," Ranieri said of Vardy's fitness.

"He made some training with the physio, tomorrow he starts with us in the warm-up and Tuesday we will do the last training session and if he is okay, he will play."

The replay adds to an already congested month of fixtures but Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino has backed his squad to prove its strength in depth as they embark on an important January.

"It is tough for us and tough for them [Leicester]," the Tottenham manager said.

"We need to be strong in our mind. We have a strong squad. Today showed that those not playing in the first team can fight for a place.

"It's complicated. It's tough to play Premier League, Europa League and cups. But it's for that we have a very strong squad and we made seven changes.

"We need to keep fit all the players, and motivated. It's a good thing to compete and that the squad believes everyone can compete for a consistent place in the team."

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