Chris Wood watched in astonishment as Leicester soared to the Premier League title but he is hoping to get one over on his former club as Burnley chase their own impossible dream.
The Clarets go into Saturday’s clash sitting in seventh place in the table, six points ahead of Leicester. A nine-point advantage with five games to go would make them red-hot favourites to bring European football to Turf Moor for the first time in half a century.
Striker Wood has been a big factor in their current form, scoring four goals in as many games – all of which Burnley have won – since returning from a knee injury.
The 26-year-old spent two and a half seasons with Leicester between January 2013 and the summer of 2015, when a lack of games prompted him to leave for Leeds, therefore missing out on the Foxes’ remarkable Premier League title the following season.
Wood said: “I had a great time there, I think it’s a great club. I got on really well with the players, the staff, the owners are great as well. But I’ve got no loyalties to them any more so hopefully we’ll have a good weekend.”
Wood should be able to offer Burnley’s defenders some tips on how to stop Leicester’s main threat, Jamie Vardy, having studied the England man closely when they were team-mates.
The New Zealand striker said: “He’s a great player. I was fortunate enough to learn off him quite close. He scores lots of goals, he runs in behind, he works hard and he’s got bags of pace, which unfortunately I don’t have.
“I’d love if I did have his pace, then I’d be a very good striker, but I have to do different movements to work a way in. He’s a good player but we’ll hopefully nullify him at the weekend.”
Despite his fondness for the Foxes, Wood will have no qualms about celebrating should he make it five goals in five games on Saturday.
He said: “I would only do it (not celebrate) for West Brom, and that’s what I did against them, because that was my first club and that was the team that gave me a chance in England and I owe a lot to that club.
“I owe a lot to these fans to celebrate my goals and I love celebrating my goals because I take a lot of joy out of scoring goals so I’m not going to turn down a chance to celebrate a Premier League goal.”
Wood knows there will be huge hype around the game but the mantra inside the Clarets camp remains very much business as usual.
“It’s one of those games everybody from the outside will look at, saying it’ll be a big match, but for us it’s just another one on the way to the end of the season,” he said. “This one’s no bigger than one, two, three weeks’ time, whoever we face. Whatever happens on Saturday, it’s still in our hands.”
After last week’s results, when Burnley beat Watford and Leicester lost to Newcastle, seventh place is rapidly looking like the Clarets’ to lose. But, no matter how the season turns out, Wood insists there will be nothing but satisfaction at Turf Moor.
“For us players there’s nothing to lose,” he said. “We’re just going out enjoying our football and if at the end of the season that means finishing in this position, it would be great, but I think we’ve had a fantastic season so, no matter what, we’ve got to be happy.”