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New signings give Brendan Rodgers boost for another European tilt with Leicester

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Brendan Rodgers and Pep Guardiola

Brendan Rodgers and Pep Guardiola

PA

Kelechi Iheanacho

Kelechi Iheanacho

PA

Leicester captain Kasper Schmeichel lifts the Community Shield

Leicester captain Kasper Schmeichel lifts the Community Shield

Getty Images

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Brendan Rodgers and Pep Guardiola

Brendan Rodgers believes his Leicester side continue to “emphatically overachieve” after another Wembley trophy triumph.

They beat Manchester City to lift the Community Shield in the curtain-raiser to the new season.

Rodgers admitted they were deeply hurt after missing out on Champions league qualification on the final day last term.

And while he is targeting a fresh qualification push this season, the Co Antrim man feels even to be in the mix is a huge achievement for his players.

“We might miss out on the Champions League again this season - if you look at all the other teams, then we should finish eighth or ninth place,” he said.

“So these players are emphatically overachieving.

“If we had a squad that could challenge right to the very end, then of course that would be great, but that is very difficult for a club like ourselves.

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“But I think what we have shown is that we are progressing and we are being competitive.

“When you see the likes of what Manchester City have in their squad, and what they can do in terms of bringing in players - we are not at their level.

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t fight and we can’t achieve, and that is what we have always tried to do since I have come in.

“Thankfully the players are really grasping that, and they came here today with a confidence that they could get a victory against any team.”

Leicester, who beat Chelsea to lift the FA Cup in May, spent almost all of last season in the Champions League places - they were in the top four for 242 days.

But defeat to Tottenham on the final day, as injuries started to hit, saw them miss out.

Rodgers said his players have come back determined to make amends.

He added: “We were all probably really disappointed and a little bit numb after the last game.

“I think if you look at it logically, you see what we had to do in the last number of games, and it was tough for us without Harvey (Barnes) and Jonny (Evans), and Wesley (Fofana) getting injured against Tottenham.

“We will always aim to be better, we will always aim to improve.

“We came back pre-season with a real good attitude to continue our progress and continue fighting against these big teams, and making it really difficult for them.

“We will continue to do that this season. Where does that take us? Let’s wait and see.

“I’ve said since I came that our aim is to be in European football every season while I am here, and that will be our challenge again this season.”

Already this summer Rodgers has brought in £23m striker Patson Daka from Red Bull Salzburg; £17m midfielder Boubakary Soumare from Lille and England full-back Ryan Bertrand on a free transfer from Southampton.

He feels Leicester head into the new campaign, which starts against Wolves on Saturday, with greater depth, adding: “You just try to improve each year - that is our aim at the club.

“We brought in Patson, a young hungry player. He comes in with a winning mentality and he is a natural goalscorer.

“If you are going to compete and go the distance in tournaments then you need to have a strong squad.

“I felt the last couple of years, if you look at how we finished, it has just been really unfortunate.

“The players have been outstanding, but then we lose some key players and our squad is not deep enough in terms of having that quality to replace.

“So we have tried to bring in three players who will allow us to do that in Ryan and Bouba and Patson.

“They have settled in very, very well and I think all three players will really contribute for us through the season.”

On Saturday an 89th minute penalty from substitute Kelechi Iheanacho saw them beat Manchester City to lift the Community Shield. Iheanacho converted confidently from the spot after being tripped by Nathan Ake.

Rodgers felt they competed well against a much-changed City, who gave £100m signing Jack Grealish his debut as a second half sub.

He felt it was an important victory, adding: “If you want to be successful, you never have a friendly game. Wherever you travel in the world, wherever you play, if it is a game to win then you want to be competitive.

“Of course in pre-season you are trying out new players, maybe new systems, and players are searching for physicality.

“But when you arrive at this point of pre-season and there is something to play for - something prestigious like the Community Shield - then of course you are there to win it.

“You saw the spirit of the players. By winning it, they have that feeling, and that is where it begins - where the success starts.”


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