Craig Shakespeare has hinted that Demarai Gray could be afforded more regular playing time with Leicester City next season as he looks to keep hold of the exciting winger amid apparent interest from the likes of Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

Former Birmingham City prodigy Gray made just nine Premier League starts during a tumultuous 2016-17 campaign for the defending champions, but has since drawn renewed interest from some of the top-flight's biggest clubs after impressing during England's run to the semi-finals of the Under-21 European Championship in Poland.

After initially starting the tournament on the bench, he forced his way into Aidy Boothroyd's starting eleven and scored in both a crucial Group A win over the hosts and an agonising semi-final defeat to Germany.

Merseyside rivals Everton and Liverpool are both said to be tracking Gray along with Spurs and The Mirror recently claimed that the 21-year-old was seeking assurances over his first-team prospects at the King Power Stadium, particularly with former PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez having made no secret of his desire to secure a transfer.

"We've had those conversations," Shakespeare was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. "I understand the frustration of young players expecting and wanting more time. But on the other hand they have to be respectful of their team-mates and who is in front of them.

"Hopefully he can get more game time. He's a player of huge potential who is rated very highly here among the coaching staff and his own players. He's a young lad and I understand the frustrations but hopefully this season we will see him playing more."

Gray signed a four-and-a-half year contract at Leicester after joining from Birmingham in a £3.7m ($4.7m) deal in January 2016. Claims from The Guardian that such a deal could contain a much higher release clause valued at £22m have been disputed by various sources.

Addressing his situation last month, Gray spoke of a hunger to make his mark and claimed he did not feel that he had been given enough of a chance to show his talents. However, he expressed happiness with Shakespeare's overdue appointment as the permanent successor to Claudio Ranieri and seemed hopeful over his future in the East Midlands.

"Shakey has always been there for me at Leicester," he told the Press Association. "He always spoke to me one on one. With him getting the job now, I am happy with that and hopefully I will get more of an opportunity."

Demarai Gray
Demarai Gray is said to have become frustrated with a lack of regular starts at Leicester Michael Regan/Getty Images