PA Sport

Leicester defender Chilwell backs Foxes’ European hopes

Leicester defender Chilwell backs Foxes’ European hopes
By PA Sport

15/04/2018 at 20:30Updated 15/04/2018 at 22:46

Burnley opened up a nine-point lead over Leicester with a 2-1 victory at Turf Moor.

Leicester still believe their European hopes are alive, according to full-back Ben Chilwell.

The Foxes are nine points behind Burnley in seventh with only five Premier League games left to play after losing 2-1 to the Clarets at Turf Moor.

But the 2016 title winners can draw on their recent history of achieving the downright improbable and will not give up the fight.

Chilwell said: “We know it’s going to be difficult, we know it’s unlikely but, if we win all our matches from now on and they lose all their matches, we can still get Europe.

“We’re still going to go into every game with the mindset that we want Europe and that’s just been explained to us. Harder things have happened in the last few years. It’s something we still think we can do.”

Leicester boss Claude Puel made no attempt to play down the significance of the game in the build-up but the Foxes could not have made a worse start and were two down inside 10 minutes to goals from old boy Chris Wood and defender Kevin Long.

They responded well and created a number of good chances but ended the game with only Jamie Vardy’s 72nd-minute goal to show for it.

“Everyone came here, the players, the staff, the fans, with the thought we needed to win it and it was a bit of a sucker punch to go 2-0 down in whatever it was,” said Chilwell.

“But I thought the reaction was positive and we created a lot of chances. I think especially if we got a goal before half-time it would have been a different game, the mindset of both teams would have been different going into the second half. But it just turned out to be a bit too much of a hill to climb.”

Talk of Europe has begun to grow distinctly louder at Turf Moor, although a potential spanner in the works could come via Southampton, who would claim a Europa League place if they win the FA Cup.

Mark Hughes’ side play Chelsea in the semi-finals next Sunday, and Long said: “I’ll probably watch it just because it’s a semi-final. We can only control what we can do, so whatever happens, happens.

“It would be massive. Every footballer wants to play at the highest level, and if you’re playing European football, you’re going to be doing that. And for the fans, you could hear them at the end. The atmosphere was brilliant. They’re all dreaming of European football, so we hope we can get that for them.”

It was another resilient performance at the back from Burnley, with Long’s centre-back partner James Tarkowski and keeper Nick Pope both standing out in front of England manager Gareth Southgate.

Pope was named man of the match, and Long said: “He was fantastic again. Some of the saves he makes keep us in the game. It’s reassuring to have someone that calm behind you making saves.

“All he can do is keep putting in performances like that. He was immense. If Gareth was there watching, I’m sure he was taking notice of that. It’s not up to me to pick the team, but if it was, the two of them would be in the team, no doubt.”

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