By Nick Mashiter, PA
Iheanacho has scored 14 goals in his last 14 games prior to the Premier League trip to Southampton on Friday.
He had not beaten in the league before February and was before a year gone without a goal between September 2018 and September 2019.
Iheanacho has been forced to play second fiddle after Jamie Vardy since arriving from Manchester City for £ 25m in 2017 but has now scored more than 17 points than Vardy – who has scored the best goal for Leicester every season since 2015/16.
Rodgers said: “Kelechi is a talent, we mustn’t forget that. He is a great talent and he came here for a high price – and maybe just didn’t have the right opportunities. That’s natural when you have one of the best strikers in Europe in front of you.
“It’s difficult, especially if you don’t play this system, but you have to take your hat off to its mental harshness pull. That’s one of the things that is very high for me in an ideal footballer.
“He’s shown that mental toughness, he’s been through spells. Even before I got here, they were moaning and moaning when he got on the field came up. But I don’t think there are now when you look at what it produces and delivers.
“That’s a great testament to Kelechi’s mentality. No wonder because he’s a really talented player. What’s great is that he took the opportunity.
Iheanacho’s late winner in Monday’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace meant third-placed Leicester needed three wins from their last five games to make a top 4 place guarantee.
The 24-year-old had only started two top games this season before his scoring streak began against Fulham in February, but Rodgers insisted Iheanacho was always a valued member of his squad.
He said: “This is the key to having players who are outside the starting XI and not playing. As a manager, you have to recognize and recognize their importance.” Everyone will put a torch on the guys who play.
“It wasn’t that Kelechi wasn’t in my plans, we played a different system, but he was always very important to my squad.
“I’m also the type of coach who doesn’t necessarily think too much about what I don’t have. I work with what I have. “
” Sometimes you can think I want this and I need this “- and you want to improve too. But it’s also about looking at the assets you have , and to maximize what you can give the squad. “
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