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Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson has stressed the importance of focus despite players' contracts coming to an end

10 January 2014

Nigel Pearson is confident the contract situation at Leicester City will not get in the way of his side's promotion challenge.

The Foxes boss and 10 members of his first-team squad are set to see their current deals expire in the summer.

Captain Wes Morgan, one of the players affected, last week voiced his fears that other clubs will attempt to take advantage of the uncertainty and try to lure some of City's best players away.

But Pearson does not see what the big issue is.

''It's something that's going to keep cropping up but a lot of clubs will be in a similar position,'' said Pearson after Leicester stretched their lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship to seven points with a 4-1 home victory over east midlands rivals Derby.

''It's a common occurance in football and nothing out of the ordinary. But progress has been made in certain areas regarding that issue and players' representatives are in discussions with the club.

''But the important thing is we keep our focus on the job in hand.

''You don't often get this opportunity in this division to be a front-runner the way we are and we need to keep winning games and moving forward.

''It's an opportunity for us all and hopefully the players will want to stay part of it.''

On his own future, Pearson added: ''I don't need any reassurance, nor am I seeking any. I'm quite happy with the situation I'm in.''

On the matter of contracts, Pearson is hopeful of getting deals over the line for La Havre winger Riyad Mahrez and veteran striker Kevin Phillips, whose deal with Crystal Palace will end this weekend.

''Hopefully he (Mahrez) will be done in the next 24 hours,'' said Pearson.

''There's no such news (on Phillips) but we are certainly very interested in him.''

On the pitch Leicester simply outplayed Derby.

Pearson's league leaders looked every bit promotion candidates - even title contenders - on Friday night.

Richie De Laet's first goal in just over a year gave them the half-time lead, but the advantage could have been much greater as Jamie Vardy and Liam Moore saw efforts strike the crossbar.

A David Nugent double and a deserved goal for Vardy saw the Foxes send out a warning to the rest of the division, with the response particularly impressive after Derby had halved their arrears through a De Laet own goal.

Asked if it was Leicester's best performance of the season, Pearson said: ''One of them, both as a team and individually.

''Derby are a good team but we got the balance right. We worked very hard and some of our attacking play was very, very good.

''When they got the goal back it was important we responded as quickly as we did because if we didn't then the feel of game may have been different.

''All in all it's a very good day for us. When you play ahead of the rest of the programme it's always nice to take advantage of it, and we played well and deserved it.''

Derby head coach Steve McClaren acknowledged his team were well off the pace and felt Sunday's FA Cup tie with Chelsea was a contributing factor.

''I don't like to lose or lose in the manner we did,'' said the former England manager.

''Leicester are a very good team and top of table and on that performance you can see why, but we were well below our best - that wasn't the Derby team of recent months.

''But you can't maintain that sort of form all the time, you know you're going to have dips.

''To come to Leicester you need to be at your best, and tonight we weren't.

''I'm not making excuses but the Chelsea game took a lot out of us.

''I felt this game was always going to be too soon, and it proved the case. It took a lot out of us physically and emotionally.

''But it's hard to criticise the boys becasue they have been terrific since we came in.''

Eight wins in nine unbeaten Championship matches has been followed by successive league defeats either side of the Chelsea loss.

McClaren added: ''It's a wake up call for us and a realisation that there's a long way to go.

''But I'm philosophical about it, one win or one defeat won't determine your season. We have to bounce back.''

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