Club captain Matt Bloomfield spoke to BBC Radio Leicester ahead of Wednesday’s clash with the FA Cup holders at Adams Park about his time at Wycombe, teammates and what kind of threat the Foxes will face.
Before delving into the Leicester game, Bloomfield discussed his time at the club so far, and how the growth has been exponential.
"It’s been a rollercoaster 17 and a half years since I signed and little did I think I’d still be here this amount of time later. It’s been a great ride and I’ve loved every moment of being at the club - the last few years have just been incredible. It’s been a club that I’ve grown to love and it’s grown even stronger."
Bloomfield has been a key Chairboys player both on and off the pitch, and fans are keen to see him continue at the club after his tenure as a player finishes - it's an opportunity that the midfielder is already relishing.
"I won’t ever retire until someone tells me that I need to because I love playing but I totally understand that at 37, my playing days are numbered. Last year was the start of the transition period and this year will be much the same. I’ve done the pre-season with the boys and I’m ready to play if needed but also, at the same time, I’ve had a massive insight into what goes on off the pitch - planning for pre-season, recruitment and planning for the season. I could not have any more respect for Gareth Ainsworth and his assistant Richard Dobson - incredible men and amazing coaches. It’s been fascinating to combine the two roles - it means busy days but I’m really enjoying it!"
Chairboys fans might have a soft spot for the Foxes after loanees Josh Knight and Admiral Muskwe were stand out players in Wycombe’s Championship season. They have both moved on from Leicester and Bloomfield was quick to highlight what that means about the competitiveness of Brendan Rodgers’ side.
"That’s a bi-product of being so successful - the bar has been raised - you can’t just be a good player now, you have to excel and be a top international to play for the club. It’s a sign of the times! What a wonderful job Brendan Rodgers has done - for example, the new training ground - what an incredible football club.
"We’re really looking forward to welcoming the team on Wednesday evening. It’s a great test for us. The style and brand of football that Rodgers brings - that team has really progressed to become a top four contender every season, and obviously winning the FA Cup last season. Like you say, the bar has been raised at that club immeasurably in the last five or ten years - even more so in the last two or three years."
But Wycombe also has a reputation for grinding out wins and leaving it all on the pitch.
"First and foremost, we hope that we’re a really welcoming football club. There’s a lot of good people that work at our club and they’ll be welcoming the fans. We’ve had a reputation of how we’ve played over the last few years - we’ve had a smaller budget than those teams around us, so we’ve had to find ways to win games which we’ve been able to do in the last five or so years. We’re evolving as a team - the ‘old guard’ have moved away to play a lesser role and we’ve got some great young players coming through. Josh Scowen who used to play here a few years ago has just signed back with us and there’s some really good footballers in the team now. We still hope to bring in one or two before the end of pre-season but at the same time, there’s already great competition within our squad.
"We’ve got some good young players who will get it down and try and play the ball, but equally the way we’ve played over the last few years has been based on getting results, so we’re hoping this will be a good competitive game. We’re 12 days away from the start of the season now, so we’re looking forward to getting up to speed and we’re looking forward to the game."
Bloomfield isn't the only player who has become a Chairboys stalwart, with Adebayo Akinfenwa also signing a new one-year deal ahead of the 2021/22 season.
"I know I’ve been complimentary about a few of the boys at the club already but Bayo is one of those guys - what you see is what you get. I can’t speak highly enough about him and I would even go as far as to suggest that he’s been the biggest signing of Gareth Ainsworth’s career. What he’s brought on the pitch, goals, his hold-up play - he’s a better football player than he gets credit for because of his strength and size - it gets overlooked just how good a footballer he is. His awareness of bringing other players into the game and just around the dressing room and galvanising the team since he’s been here.
"He really is a top man, he’s been absolutely fantastic on the pitch for us. This’ll be his last season - he’ll be 40 this year - he doesn’t train quite as hard as he used to because the bones are creaking a little bit but get him out on that pitch and he’s a handful. He looks after the ball and brings others into play, and still provides a goal threat."