Leicester City: Liam Moore learning fast from experienced duo

By Owen PhillipsBBC Sport
Moore living the dream at Leicester

Morgan and Pearson may sound like a firm of solicitors, but in fact they are the defensive pairing behind Liam Moore's rapid rise to Leicester's first team.

Nigel Pearson, one of the most fearsome centre-backs of his generation, provides the knowhow as Moore's club boss with the Championship high-flyers.

Club captain and last season's player of the year Wes Morgan provides the inspiration and leadership on the pitch.

And the 20-year-old is making the most of their combined experience.

An ever-present in Leicester's rise to third place in the Championship table, Moore's impressive displays have been rewarded with the Football League's Young Player of the Month award for September.

"I am learning so much from the gaffer and big Wes," Moore told BBC Sport.

"Wes is a quality player. I cannot remember the last time he had a bad game. He was someone I looked up to from the moment I stepped into the club. He is someone you can learn off all the time.

"Off the pitch he is a very likeable person and easy to get on with. It all fits in together and he is someone I idolise in a way."

Moore is obviously a quick learner.

A whirlwind 24 months which started with a loan spell at Bradford City has brought the laidback 20-year-old international recognition, a regular first-team spot and a first goal for his hometown club.

There has also been reported interest from Premier League clubs.

As crucial as the senior players like Morgan have been, Moore said Pearson, the epitome of an uncompromising 1980s centre-half, is the man who takes the most credit for his rapid rise.

"My loan move to Bradford early on was something I needed as an up-and-coming player. I played about 20 games on the bounce and grew up a lot," Moore stated. "It taught me a lot.

"But when the gaffer came back in, [a couple of months later] I came back off loan and four days later I started my first game for the first team.

"I have to say a massive 'thank you' to the gaffer. He gave me my first Championship game and that was probably my turning point."

And although he is not old enough to remember Pearson the player, Moore knows about his reputation and is happy to try to follow his no-nonsense approach towards defending.

"I think I can be in that bracket as well," Moore said. "I don't want to take chances. I like to dominate my striker and not give them a sniff.

"I aim to come off the pitch hoping the striker knows he has been in a game, remembers the name Liam Moore and does not want to come up against me again.

"I pick up points from the gaffer in training - the positional sense and things like that. It's making my progress a lot easier having someone like the gaffer there to give me pointers."

The success at Leicester is all the more special to Moore, given he joined the club as a seven-year-old having been spotted playing for a local junior team on a Sunday.

That 13-year association with a club who are "deep in his heart" explains the look of pure joy on his face when he netted his first Foxes goal in the recent 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic.

"It is something I have wanted for a long time," he explained. "You dream of it. I think if I ever created a goal in the living-room that was exactly how it would have went.

"The ball was hung up and it was perfect to attack. It was a moment I will never forget. The feeling after the goal - you can see it on my face. There was shock, I was buzzing - it was everything rolled into one.

"A lot went through my mind because it felt like the ball was in the air forever. I knew I had lost my man - Wes had taken both the men away - so it was just a case of timing my jump right, making a good connection and I was off and celebrating."

He is clearly thrilled with the young player of the month award, as well as his recent progress, but he is taking nothing for granted.

"It's a long way until you are an established first-team player," Moore added. "I have been lucky to play so far but I won't be happy until I have made 35-40 appearances this season. Then maybe I can feel like I am starting to find my way into this team.

"Right now there are quality players who are not even making the squad so I can't say I have done anything yet.

"There is quality all over the pitch. Everyone has to be on their toes. That has been the key to our success. We have good quality back-up and if you take your foot off the pedal you will not be in the team."

And the agony of last season's play-off semi-final heartache against Watford has acted as the perfect incentive to win promotion this season.

The Foxes famously had an injury-time penalty to secure a Wembley final spot but missed it and saw the Hornets break and score the winner.

"We have pretty much kept the squad from what happened at Watford," Moore said. "I don't think any team will go through as much pain as that.

"From being inches away then going up the other end and losing, it has made all of us grow up.

"We have turned into men this season and if you see us now in games we are showing that. We just hope this year is our year and we can make up for the hurt of last season."

Only two permanent signings - Dean Hammond and Zoumana Bakayogo - arrived in the summer, and Moore insists the squad is benefiting from the stability.

"We are a tight group," he said. "There are no big-time Charlies in this team. If you are a settled squad it does make things easier.

"Leicester are a massive club and promotion is 100% the aim and to do it the best way we can. Things do not always go the way you want but the very least we are looking for is play-offs."