James Milner says he will feel ‘sick’ if Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League, claiming the club’s return to the competition should already be secure.

Milner apologised for missing a penalty in the 0-0 draw with Southampton and admits the Merseysiders have only themselves to blame, not just for squandering a chance to consolidate their top four place, but for dropping out the title race so soon.

Liverpool remain in control of their own destiny but must win at West Ham this weekend – or hope Arsenal and Manchester United are unable to win games in hand.Asked how he would feel if Liverpool are caught by their rivals, Milner replied: “Sick. This is a team and a club that needs to be in the Champions League. We will be in Europe but the Champions League is where everyone wants to play.

“We have made improvements this year and we know where we need to improve again. We have shown on any one day we can beat anyone, so if we could get in the Champions League we know we could be a match for anyone. We have got to do it consistently. I don’t think we have been as up and down as last year. In the games we haven’t got the points we wanted we have dominated the game. We’ve dropped points where we shouldn’t have done.”

The fact Liverpool have fallen so far behind Spurs and Chelsea has also upset the stand-in captain.

“We have dropped points where you might not expect us to and there have been some disappointing games,” he said.

“We do that job better and we are fighting for the title, never mind fighting to get into the top four. That is disappointing and we know it is an area we need to improve. Against the top teams, our record is very, very good but against the teams that come to sit back and play on the break and look to get something from a set piece, we need to improve. There are not many things wrong. We can certainly improve on it and if we do that we will be in the reckoning.”

Milner says he will continue to take Liverpool’s penalties having converted the previous seven prior to Fraser Forster’s save.

“Yeah, no question about. I’m the penalty taker,” he said.

“That is one of the things about being the penalty taker. You have to take that responsibility on and also expect to miss them. It happens. It is how you bounce back from them and it won’t affect my confidence to put the ball in the back of the net.

“I just said sorry in the dressing room. There is not a lot more I can say than that. It is very costly today ultimately and I have to hold my hands up.”

Milner shrugged off any suggestion of gamesmanship from the Southampton keeper as the spot-kick was delayed.

Fraser Forster and Jame Milner - Liverpool should be in the Champions League, if we miss out I'll be sick, says captain James Milner

Fraser Forster (left), the Southampton goalkeeper, denied Liverpool captain Milner

Credit: Getty Images

“He was trying to scuff up the spot, so I just stood in front of it. Listen, it’s all part of it. It never affected me, it didn’t get in my head or anything like that,” he said.

“I knew what I wanted to do. I just didn’t get it in the corner that I fancied. I don’t know if he went early or not but he is a big lad and he has seen me take a lot of penalties when we have been taking them with England at the Euros. They are a bit tougher when they know you. Ultimately, the penalty wasn’t good enough. He made a good save. He is a big lad and a good keeper. He’s even seen me take them back to the days when we were at Newcastle. It’s no excuse. I should have scored and I have to take the responsibility. There was a lot riding on it, but hopefully we will get a bit of luck and finish the job.  Hopefully results can bail me out.

“We have got to win the last two and see where that takes us.”

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