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Rodgers would accept Fairplay place

Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool would accept a place in Europe via the fair play standings, despite suggesting that the club could do without it.

Rodgers' side are second behind Arsenal in the standings ahead of Sunday's Merseyside derby clash with Everton at Anfield.

UEFA grants a place in the Europa League qualification stages to the three European nations with the best fair play records. England was fourth in the table when the last standings were published on December 31.

If England finishes in the top three, a fair play place in the Europa League would almost certainly default to Liverpool, with Arsenal on course to qualify for the Champions League.

Rodgers has indicated in recent weeks that a season out of Europe would enable his side to focus on improving their Premier League position.

In addition, the Europa League qualifying rounds would clash with Liverpool's lucrative pre-season tour of Asia and Australia, planned for July.

But Rodgers stressed that comments he made earlier this week about instructing players to pick up yellow and red cards to avoid qualifying for Europe had been meant as a joke.

He said: "I was asked the question last week, and what I said was obviously meant as a joke. Of course, it gets reported differently.

"We want to be in European competition, however it comes, but we'd prefer to go down the football route."

Liverpool reached the last 32 of this season's Europa League, where they were eliminated by Zenit St Petersburg on away goals.

Asked whether he would accept a European place for next season via the fair play standings, Rodgers added: "I think, as a football club, you have to. I don't think it's something you turn down, if you get the opportunity to go into European football.

"The journey we had this year in the Europa League was something all the players thoroughly enjoyed. It was a great exercise for us.

"We were bitterly disappointed to go out - and if we get the chance to do it again, then for sure we will."

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