Sunday Mirror

Rodgers: No mass sale to balance books if we miss Champions League IT’S JESSE THE TICKET

Lingard: People wondered what Hammers were getting... now they know regular football gets best out of me!

- BY nEIL mOXLEY BY ALEX WOOD Jesse Lingard was speaking to beIN SPORTS, the global sports broadcaste­r

BRENDAN RODGERS says there will be no mass sale of Leicester City’s squad if the club fails to qualify for the Champions League.

The Foxes chief is adamant that he will not be forced to cash in on a string of players should he fall short of his quest to finish in the top four.

Rodgers (below) has performed a superb job during the past two seasons as Jamie Vardy & Co. have elbowed their way among the elite.

But with Leicester posting a £67million loss and having taken out borrowing to finish their £95m sumptuous training facility, cash may be an issue.

The position is not helped either by the club’s owners

King Power – who derive their income from duty free sales in Thailand – being hit by the drop in internatio­nal travel.

But Rodgers insists the likes of Youri Tielemans,

Wilfred Ndidi, James

Maddison and Harvey

Barnes won’t be heading to the exit if they don’t hit the top four – although he cannot rule out an attractive offer changing that.

He said: “Like most clubs, there will be a lot of debt due to the pandemic.

“If you can get to the Champions League, it fills a gap in the finances for any club. Of course, players would love to play in that competitio­n – but I don’t think we will lose players if we don’t.

“European football is important for us as a step to show we can consistent­ly be up there. It would be incredible if we did get into the top four.

“We want to sustain it. Naturally, as everyone knows it gives you a great boost if you can get there.

“But the beauty of it is that the team and the squad are full of assets. Those assets are there.

“I speak regularly to Susan Whelan, our chief executive, I have great conversati­ons with her about the economics of the club. We have a great benefactor in the Srivaddhan­aprabha family and King Power – they have always been super-supportive. Their ambition is for the club to move forward.

“Like we have seen with Ben Chilwell and Harry Maguire – I can’t sit here and say the club will never sell a player.

“But there’s no pressure to sell or anything like that.

I’ve always been open to that, if the club had to sell a player, then that’s what the club has to do. We have then to create a pipeline to bring in the next one.”

Leicester’s new training base at Seagrave has been hailed as one of the best in the world after a two-year developmen­t finished earlier this year.

And Rodgers is confident both in the club’s pulling power and his own recruitmen­t model meaning that he can fill the gap even if a player does want to move on.

He said: “We’ve lost two top players in the two summers

I’ve been here. It’s having a pipeline. Having a collective.

“You have to anticipate and you have to prepare. You can cope with losing top players.

“We have world-class facilities. Any player here has an opportunit­y to work with a manager that wants to develop them and help them achieve their dreams, and fans who are very supportive.

“But there’s other factors at play. Real Madrid will lose players. Other teams will lose players.

“We have a spirit here and a great culture that allows for developmen­t.

“You can do no more than that. If a player is improving and on a great contract, then there’s not much more they can ask for.”

WEST Ham: Fabianski, Coufal, Dawson, Diop,

Cresswell, Masuaku, Soucek, Noble,

Lingard, Bowen, Fornals LEIcESTER: Schmeichel, Amartey,

Fofana, Evans,

Pereira, Tielemans, Ndidi, Castagne,

Iheanacho, Perez, Vardy

JESSE LINGARD says he was determined to prove the doubters wrong when he joined West Ham.

The 28-year-old moved to east London on loan from Manchester United at the end of the January transfer window.

He had become a peripheral figure under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s leadership at Old Trafford, with not a single Premier League appearance to his name during the first half of the season.

But since heading south, Lingard has been a revelation for the Hammers.

The versatile attacker has bagged six goals in eight top-flight fixtures, to help David Moyes’ Irons push on for a top-four finish.

Lingard insists that he never lost belief in his own ability during his spell on the sidelines.

The 27-cap England star said: “People were thinking, ‘What type of

player are we going to get? He’s 3-2 win over Wolves, the not played in two years, he’s not Warrington-born ace scored the scored goals, not assisted... we first-half opener after picking up don’t know’. the ball in his own half and going

“I could understand that on a mazy solo run. because I’d not played in a long He recalled: “It was great from time, but behind the scenes I was Antonio to take one defender working hard. I was Composure in away and then it always ready to play, front of goal is was me one-on-one no matter what. something I’ve with a defender and

“But it’s with been working on I had to sidestep confidence and him. playing regular football that you “Then it was down to me and get the best out of me.” the keeper.

In his handful of appearance­s “Over the years I’ve lacked a bit for West Ham so far, Lingard has of composure in front of goal and already bagged a goal-of-theseason it’s something I’ve been working contender. In Monday’s on in training. Running at high speed and trying to finish.” The highest West Ham have ever finished in the Premier League era was fifth place in 1998-99.

However, they did manage a third-place finish in the league in 1985-86 – their highest ever in the top division.

Lingard, who is looking to ensure he books his place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad this summer, says that he is keeping his eye on the prize as the season’s campaign draws to a close.

He said: “There are still eight games left and there are going to be highs and lows before the end of the season.

“We might lose games 3-0 or 4-0, but it’s about how you cope with that and move on.

“With the confidence that we’ve got, we believe we can win any game.

“Europe and England are always in the back of your mind of course.

“But, like I say to everyone, ‘Step by step, take it slow – don’t think too far into the future and take it week by week, game by game’ – then we’ll see where we end up at the end of the season.” »

 ??  ?? SILENCING CRITICS Jesse Lingard is in great form now for Hammers
Last five in PL: LWLDW Top PL scorer: Soucek (9) LEIcESTER
Last five in PL: LDWWL Top PL scorer: Vardy (12)
SILENCING CRITICS Jesse Lingard is in great form now for Hammers WEST Ham Last five in PL: LWLDW Top PL scorer: Soucek (9) LEIcESTER Last five in PL: LDWWL Top PL scorer: Vardy (12) LIkELY TEamS
 ??  ?? DIS-UNITED Lingard struggled to get a regular game under Solskjaer
DIS-UNITED Lingard struggled to get a regular game under Solskjaer

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