Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says failing to qualify for the Europa League could be a "blessing" if the club want to fight their way back into top-four contention.
Rodgers's team are seventh in the Premier League and have an outside chance of finishing fifth and snatching a Europa League qualifying place.
With a fourth-place finish and Champions League qualification all but a distant dream, he acknowledged a season without European demands could help them and their fledgling squad push on domestically.
"There are two arguments," Rodgers told British media on Thursday. "As a club we want to be in there - we really enjoyed European football this season after it had been missing for a year and I know the supporters love the travel.
"But you could argue that a season free of European football would give us a greater chance of finishing in a much higher position in the league - of competing for the top four which is a really difficult task with the teams up there and the finances involved.
"Our squad from the beginning of this season was small and we are gradually building that up. We would love to be in there and we want to finish as high as we possibly can but it won't be the end of the world if we don't qualify for Europe," added Rodgers.
"If it doesn't happen then it could end up being a blessing for us."
Europe's second tier competition does not have the allure or financial rewards of its lucrative Champions League sibling but it can still act as an incentive for players keen to showcase their abilities.
With media reports circulating that Premier League top scorer Luis Suarez could be tempted to leave at the end of the season, Rodgers will be acutely aware of the need to have a strong end to the campaign to provide a platform to build on.
Liverpool have undergone a period of reconstruction since Rodgers arrived in the close-season and while they have shown flashes of promise, their league form has been inconsistent.
They reached the last 32 of this season's Europa League but the knock-on effect was they won only two of the nine Premier League matches that directly followed their European nights.
"It could allow us to have a real strong run at the league next year and that can then really springboard us for the years going forward," Rodgers added.
"But ultimately we want a squad strong enough to be able to cope with European football as well as the domestic league and cups."
Liverpool visit bottom club Reading in the Premier League on Saturday.comments