- Associated Press - Thursday, April 28, 2016

LEICESTER, England (AP) - They are the bargain-buys and cast-offs from bigger clubs now on the verge of becoming Premier League champions.

Leicester plays Manchester United on Sunday, one victory away from the title after being one of the favorites to be relegated at the start of the season.

Here is a guide to the key players in a team seven points clear at the top of the Premier League with three games remaining:



Kasper Schmeichel: The son of title-winning Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, Kasper is a Denmark international who has played for Leicester since 2011, when the club was in England’s second division. He has 15 shutouts this season in the league.



Danny Simpson: A product on Manchester United’s youth academy who could not break into the first team, Simpson’s career fluctuated between teams in the Premier League and second division before signing for Leicester in 2014. He started the season suspended following a criminal conviction for assaulting a former girlfriend but he has produced some of his best performances since regaining his place in October.

Wes Morgan: The Leicester captain did not play in the Premier League until two years ago, at the age of 30. He has a powerful and combative style of defending and alongside Schmeichel has formed the core of a stubborn defense by playing every league match for Leicester so far.

Robert Huth: One of the more recognizable names in the Leicester ranks, Huth has experience of winning the Premier League with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006, as well as 19 appearances for Germany. He partners Morgan in the center of Leicester’s defense and is dominant aerially.

Christian Fuchs: Captain of Austria, Fuchs has proved an astute signing by Leicester, who landed the left back on a free transfer after his contract with German club Schalke expired last year. As well as making 74 appearances at international level, Fuchs played in the Champions League and Europa League with Schalke.



Danny Drinkwater: Incisive passing and tough tackling led to Drinkwater making his England debut last month. Another former United trainee who could not break through at Old Trafford, he has flourished in central midfield at Leicester.

N’Golo Kante: The club’s first signing last year from French team Caen when Claudio Ranieri was appointed manager, Kante has been one of the best midfielders in the league. Like Drinkwater, he made his international debut in March for France and scored.

Riyad Mahrez: Mahrez was an unknown when he joined from French club Le Havre in January 2014. The Algeria winger is now officially England’s top player after being voted player of the year by his fellow professionals this month. While adding inventiveness and flair to Leicester’s attacking play, Mahrez has contributed 17 goals and 11 assists in the league campaign.

Marc Albrighton: A speedy winger who was heralded as an exciting prospect when he came through the ranks at Aston Villa. But Albrighton’s form plateaued after a recurring foot injury in 2012 and he was released when his contract expired in 2014. He joined Leicester on a free transfer and has rediscovered form and fitness. As Albrighton prepares to win the league, Villa has already been relegated.

Jeff Schlupp: His versatility has been a useful asset as the Ghana international can play in defense or midfield. He has regularly come on as a substitute but is, at 22, considered a prospect for the future after graduating from Leicester’s academy.



Jamie Vardy: Four years ago, Vardy was playing for Fleetwood Town, a team outside the four professional leagues in England. Now he is a Premier League record breaker after scoring in 11 consecutive matches this season. He has spearheaded Leicester’s title charge with 22 goals and is now set to go to the European Championship with England.

Shinji Okazaki: Japan’s third highest scorer with 48 goals in 100 appearances, Okazaki signed for Leicester in 2015 from German club Mainz. He has weighed in with some important goals, including an acrobatic strike as Leicester edged Newcastle 1-0 in March.

Leonardo Ulloa: Bought from second-division team Brighton in 2014, his goal tally of 13 helped Leicester retain its Premier League status last season. His role has been reduced with the arrival of Okazaki this time around, but his decisive strike in the 1-0 win against Norwich in February could prove crucial to securing the title.



Claudio Ranieri: The Italian’s appointment last year was widely ridiculed following the departure of Nigel Pearson, who got Leicester promoted and then kept it in the Premier League. Ranieri had been out of work since being fired by Greece when he returned to English management after an 11-year absence. Ranieri gained the nickname “Tinkerman” from his time at Chelsea from 2000-04 because of his mass changes to a starting line-up or seemingly unnecessary substitutions in matches. But his tactical nous has steered Leicester through an incredible season, where he has largely kept the same starting lineup.

Despite having also managed Juventus, Inter Milan and Valencia, Ranieri has never won a league title in his career.

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