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Brendan Rodgers refuses to be downbeat after missing out on top four

‘We’re excited – it’s that next step for this squad’: Brendan Rodgers praises the ‘effort and spirit’ of his Leicester team as he refuses to be downbeat with having to settle for a place in the Europa League 

Brendan Rodgers is remaining optimistic for next season, despite being pipped to a Champions League spot by Manchester United on the final day of the Premier League.

Speaking after Leicester’s 2-0 defeat, Rodgers spoke about his excitement to play in the Europa League next season.   

‘Absolutely, we’re excited by that [Europe],’ said the Leicester manager. ‘We finished in the second highest league position in the club’s Premier League history. It takes us into Europe and I’m really excited by that.

Brendan Rodgers is excited to play in the Europa League, despite missing out on the top four

Manchester United beat the Foxes 2-0 to qualify for next season's Champions League

Manchester United beat the Foxes 2-0 to qualify for next season’s Champions League

‘It’s that next step for this squad. We’ve arrived a bit earlier than what we thought but the boys have had a very good season.

‘I can’t fault their effort and spirit, next year it’s about ambition, improving the quality and this experience will serve us really well.’

Leicester needed a win against United to secure a top four finish, but ended the season in fifth after the defeat. 

Leicester needed a win over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United on the final day

Leicester needed a win over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United on the final day

A penalty from Bruno Fernandes, as well as an injury time goal from Jesse Lingard sunk Leicester in their last game of the season, with a Jonny Evans red card only adding insult to injury.

It was a successful season regardless for the Foxes, finishing in their highest position since winning the league in 2015-16. 

And it was a particularly good campaign for Jamie Vardy, who nabbed the Golden Boot award with his 23 goals, among a league filled with attacking talent. 

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy picked up the Golden Boot award thanks to his 23 goals

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy picked up the Golden Boot award thanks to his 23 goals

‘Since the day I walked through the door he has been brilliant, a real talisman for the team,’ said Rodgers of his star striker. 

‘He knows he couldn’t have done it without the team but they know we wouldn’t be where we are without that quality.

‘He thoroughly deserves it, to get 23 goals and to finish ahead of some of the world-class strikers shows how well he has done.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk