Simon Mignolet: Liverpool can cope with added European football next season
Last Updated: 19/05/17 8:45am
Simon Mignolet says Liverpool can cope with the added strain of European football next season.
If the Reds beat Middlesbrough at Anfield on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, they will finish inside the top four for the first time since 2013/14, in Jurgen Klopp's first full season in charge at the club.
Liverpool did not feature in Europe this season, along with newly-crowned Premier League champions Chelsea, but the Belgian stopper says they have the squad to deal with the extra games, despite admitting it does help the freshness of the side to be without European football.
Mignolet told Sky Sports: "The Premier League is obviously a tough league and you need the energy to play week in, week out, but I think we have the squad to do that, so it doesn't mean that if you're in the Champions League you can't fight for the Premier League title. Those two things can be combined.
"It's clear that it helps if you don't play in Europe, and you can focus yourself week in, week out, on the Premier League, freshen players up and play with the same squad every week. If you see how Leicester played last year, they played nearly every game with the same team. I think Chelsea are one of the sides with the least changes.
"These things obviously help, it's a demanding league, and everyone wants to play in it. But it is important because I think Liverpool's history shows they are fighting in the top of the Premier League and in Europe.
"We've got the chance of getting in the Champions League, and everybody is very hungry for this in the dressing room. Everybody wants to fight at the top stage."
Despite being relatively inconsistent this term, Klopp's side will be happy with a Champions League spot, with a defined top six battling it out for European places this season.
Mignolet, 29, says Liverpool have learned how to play winning football against lesser sides this season, and says striking a balance between solidity and free-flowing styles next term could result in success.
He said: "This year, particularly in the last few months, we learned to play against clubs that sit and defend, and play on the counter attack.
"We learned a lot in those kind of games to play and win against these teams. Like Stoke, Watford, West Brom, these things we need to combine for next year.
"This year, we have been fighting at the top of the Premier League. We got in a difficult moment in December and January, but we look like we can clinch top four, and that's what we wanted at the beginning of the season.
"At the beginning of the season, you think you want to challenge for the top four, and you know beforehand that there is huge competition for these places.
"Everybody is willing to go for it, you get the top teams and then every year, like last year with Leicester, there tends to be an outsider that comes into play."
"With one game to go we are in a good position. If we'd have known that at the beginning of the season, we'd have grasped it, so hopefully we can finish the business on Sunday. We've got it in our own hands."