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Zak Whitbread finds a home with Leicester City

Zak Whitbread, Clint Dempsey

Fulham’s Clint Dempsey vies for the ball against Norwich City’s Zak Whitbread, right, during their English Premier League soccer match at Craven Cottage, London, England, Saturday March 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Tim Hales)


Former Norwich City defender Zak Whitbread has found a home. The 28-year-old Houstonian has signed a two-year deal with Leicester City, moving back to England’s second-tier in the process.

Whitbread moved up to the English Premier League last year, Norwich earning promotion after finishing second in England’s Football League Championship. Injury and selection saw him limited to 18 Premier League appearances as the Canaries finished 12th.

The previous year, Whitbread also missed a significant number of matches, playing 22 of Norwich’s 42 Championship matches. Norwich released him in May.

On the surface, it looks like playing time should be easier to get at Walkers Stadium. Ireland international Sean St. Ledger should one spot in central defense, but while Nigel Pearson’s team have options at the fullback spots (with Lee Peltier and Paul Konchensky), the departure of Cote d’Ivoire international Sol Bamba leaves a place open in the middle. Ritchie De Laet, brought in from Manchester United, may have something to say about that, though he’s only played 44 league games in five years of English soccer.

Pearson’s thoughts:

“He will be a great character to have as part of the group and, having only won promotion from the Championship a little over a year ago with Norwich, he knows exactly what it takes to get out of this division.

“We’re really pleased with the business we have been able to do so far this summer, we have made some valuable additions to the squad and Zak certainly falls into that category.”

In the States, we usually see stepping down the league ladder as a very bad sign, but on the club-level, Leicester is not a significant step down. Historically, the Foxes have been the more successful, slightly more prestigious club. That doesn’t balance out the move to the Championship, but the drop isn’t as steep as it seems.