Claudio Ranieri

Leicester City have unveiled an anthropomorphic inflatable banana as manager Claudio Ranieri’s assistant, as the club tries to stay on track for its first ever Premier League title.

The banana, called Tony, was a stalwart on the club’s Filbert Street terraces in the late 1980’s, and is seen as an attempt by Leicester’s owners of showing a connection with their fans, although most followers, considering the incredible run the Foxes have been on, would have preferred previous assistant manager Craig Shakespeare – one of Ranieri’s three right hand men – to have remained.

Ranieri, speaking in the aftermath of a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa that saw Leicester remain in second place behind Arsenal only on goal difference, said: ‘I am pleased to have Tony alongside me. He’s seen it all through the years, and was a firm fan favourite back in his day. He can bring a lot to this club’.

Tony tantalisingly kept silent during Ranieri’s press conference, preferring instead to stare into the middle distance smiling through a mouth hastily drawn on him by chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, but it is believed that he will take charge of most training sessions and assist the coaching staff with maintaining morale, as well as helping out around the ticket office.

Meanwhile Leicester will take a brief break from their fairytale season, as they prepare to welcome Tottenham Hotspur for their replayed FA Cup Third Round tie on January 20.