Leicester fear suffering Champions League heartbreak for a second successive season even if they manage to finish in the top four.
The third-placed Foxes can move 10 points clear of fifth-placed West Ham if they win at Southampton on Friday, which would leave them within touching distance of a Champions League place under normal circumstances.
Yet the success of English clubs in Europe this season complicates the issue. If Chelsea win the Champions League and Arsenal the Europa League, and both finish outside the top four, then fourth place would be good enough only for a Europa League spot.
Leicester City fear missing out on the Champions League even if they finish in the top four
UEFA allow a maximum of five clubs from the same country in the Champions League and grant automatic entry to the holders and Europa League winners.
Last season, Leicester spent virtually the entire campaign in the top four before their poor form post-lockdown meant they were squeezed into fifth on the final day, when they were beaten by Manchester United.
It would be a cruel end to an outstanding season for Leicester if only a top-three finish were good enough. They have also reached their first FA Cup Final since 1969 and, in Kelechi Iheanacho, they have a striker in the form of his life.
The Nigerian has scored 14 times in his last 14 matches and struck the winner in Monday’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, when Leicester fought back from a goal down. Brendan Rodgers’ team also have happy memories of St Mary’s after winning 9-0 there on their last visit in October 2019.
Iheanacho struggled for rhythm after joining Leicester from Manchester City for £25million in 2017 but those difficulties are now behind him.
If Chelsea win the Champions League and Arsenal win the Europa League – but both finish outside the top four – fourth spot would only be good enough for a place in the Europa League
Rodgers said: ‘Even before I came here, they were moans and groans when he came onto the pitch. But I don’t think there are any now.
‘He’s a big talent and came here for a large price tag – and maybe just didn’t have quite the opportunities. That’s natural when you have one of Europe’s top strikers (Jamie Vardy) in front of him.
‘It’s difficult. But you have to tip your hat to his mental toughness. That’s one of the things that’s right up the top for me in an ideal footballer.’
Rodgers praised striker Kelechi Iheanacho for his excellent recent form in front of goal