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Brendan Rodgers will not alter Leicester ambitions after win at Newcastle

Newcastle United v Leicester City – Premier League – St James’ Park
(Image credit: Michael Regan)

Brendan Rodgers is refusing to recalibrate his ambitions for the season despite guiding Leicester into the Champions League places.

The Foxes edged their way into third place in the Premier League table with a 2-1 win at Newcastle on Sunday, but manager Rodgers is not allowing himself or anyone to get carried away.

Asked afterwards if his targets had changed, he said: “No, it’s still the same. My ambition is to get into Europe again and for us to progress. We want to be a team that year on year can get European football.

Youri Tielemans is congratulated by Brendan Rodgers

Youri Tielemans scored Leicester’s second (Michael Regan/PA)

“It’s always going to be a process for us. We don’t have the finances to go and get that £70million, £80m, £90m player, so for us, we have to develop that player, bring in a young player or a senior player like a Jonny Evans, who is a top player, and manage his career through so he can help our younger players.

“For us, the goals are still the same. We’re virtually at the halfway point, we’ve started the season very well both in Europe and in the league, but we have a lot of work to do.”

The sides went in level after a poor first half at St James’ Park, but the deadlock was broken 10 minutes after the restart.

The visitors put together a flowing counter-attack, with Harvey Barnes breaking at pace before feeding Jamie Vardy, who teed the ball up invitingly for James Maddison to smash home.

Leicester looked to be home and dry with 18 minutes remaining when Youri Tielemans swept home a second from Marc Albrighton’s perfectly weighted pass and although substitute Andy Carroll’s first Newcastle goal since Boxing Day 2010 introduced a note of uncertainty, there was no further late drama.

Rodgers said: “When it gets to 2-1 with 10 minutes to go, then it becomes a war, so you have got to show you have that ability to defend, and the players did that manfully.

“It was a really, really good three points for us.”

The Magpies, who have faced Manchester City, Liverpool and the Foxes in their last three games, have now taken five points from a possible 18 and been knocked out of the Carabao Cup quarter-finals by Sky Bet Championship Brentford since being hit by a Covid-19 outbreak at the end of November.

Head coach Steve Bruce admitted they had contributed to their own downfall against Rodgers’ side.

Newcastle striker Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll’s goal was not enough to spark a Newcastle fightback (Michael Regan/PA)

He said: “That’s the frustrating thing because there was nothing in it first half in my opinion, and unfortunately we were caught giving the ball away high up the pitch, which is something, unfortunately, we’ve been guilty of a few times with that final pass.

“We give it away and, against Leicester in particular, we know how good they are on the break against you and our first real mistake, we’ve been punished.”

Carroll’s contribution did, however, provide a crumb of comfort.

Bruce said: “I’m delighted for Andy. He’s been a bit frustrated because he hasn’t been in the team, but he’s come on and reminded us of what he can do. It was a great finish.

“Andy came in and gave us something else up front, which is always good to have.”