Football: Foxes boss Shakespeare's mid-season dream continues

Leicester City boss Craig Shakespeare moved within touching distance of achieving his main goal of top-flight survival and joined managerial royalty in the process as the Premier League champions beat Stoke City 2-0.

But the Foxes' boss admitted he has having to pinch himself after extending his perfect start to life at the helm of the Midlands club with a fifth successive win.

Saturday's home success at the King Power Stadium saw Shakespeare become the first Englishman to win his first four games as a Premier League manager.

In doing so he joined serial winners Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink and Pep Guardiola as the only managers to achieve the feat.

"I'm very proud," said Shakespeare, whose other win came in the Champions League.

"You sometimes have to pinch yourself in terms of the names being mentioned.

"I'm at a very, very early stage in my management career but to be mentioned in the same breath of them makes me very proud.

"I realise there's a lot people to thank along the way, in terms of my previous managers when I've been an assistant, but also the players."

Having won his only game as caretaker manager at West Bromwich Albion, Shakespeare has a 100 percent record from six games as a boss after he was promoted from within the Leicester set-up following the controversial decision by the club's Thai owners to sack title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri.

The Italian was axed after a dramatic slump in form left Leicester flirting with relegation.

- Ndidi rocket -

But Shakespeare admitted his latest victory had its nervous moments, despite goals from Wilfred Ndidi, with a 25-yard rocket of a shot, and Jamie Vardy clinching what looked like a straightforward success.

"It never felt comfortable," he said. "I did feel that the first goal was going to be important -- and what a goal it was.

"He (Ndidi) has scored one similar to it before. It gave us a foothold in the game, which was very important.

"The timing of the second goal was vitally important to settle everyone's nerves down and allow them to express themselves."

Leicester continue their quest for Premier League survival when they host bottom side Sunderland on Tuesday, with Foxes captain Wes Morgan set for a third straight game on the sidelines because of a back injury.

Yohan Benalouane has deputised in central defence in the wins against West Ham and Stoke.

Praising Benalouane's "very assured performances" in recent games, Shakespeare added: "He's had to be more patient than anyone at the football club, mainly because of the form of Robert Huth and Morgan, but he's taken his chance very well.

"Wes is struggling to be fit for Tuesday."

Shakespeare hopes, however, that winger Marc Albrighton will recover from the sickness bug that kept him out of the Stoke win.

Defeat extended Stoke's winless away run in the Premier League to four games and manager Mark Hughes admitted: "We were a little bit off the pace, probably half a yard short all day long."

It also proved another frustrating day for January signing Saido Berahino, who rarely looked likely to open his goalscoring account for his new club.

"Saido was well shepherded," said former Wales striker Hughes, whose impressive career up front took in spell at English giants Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

"He didn't get much change out of the centre-halves."

Hughes added: "We need to be able to release him more often. It's a more a collective thing rather than Saido's limitations.

"It wasn't a case of him not being fit or up to speed."