Soccer-Everton's Ancelotti motivated by prospect of Champions League

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Burnley v Everton

(Reuters) - Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday he misses the Champions League, and the prospect of leading the English side into Europe's elite club competition next season is a "fantastic" motivating factor.

Everton are sixth in the Premier League with 32 points from 17 games -- two points behind Merseyside rivals Liverpool who occupy fourth place, the final automatic qualifying spot for the Champions League, and have played two games more than Everton.

Ancelotti said Everton's next two matches, against third-placed Leicester City on Wednesday and 16th-placed Newcastle United on Saturday, would give him an indication of where they stand.

"I think the Champions League is the best competition in the world. As I said when I arrived here, to take Everton into the Champions League is a fantastic motivation for me personally. It's a great desire," Ancelotti told a news conference.

"It will be important for us to understand where we want to be. We want to fight for the top six, the top four. We're going to play at home these next two games and after Saturday we know where we'll be.

"The Premier League is competitive this season. There are teams like us, like West Ham, like Southampton who are not used to staying (in the top six)," the Italian said. "For these clubs, it's really exciting to fight with the usual top teams."

Left back Lucas Digne is available after overcoming an ankle problem and forward Alex Iwobi returns after recovering from a knock. The duo missed Everton's 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup on Sunday.

"But Fabian Delph, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Allan and Niels Nkounkou are still out. The others, all good," Ancelotti said.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, Editing by Timothy Heritage)