Liverpool star James Milner has issued a warning to his teammates that a failure to seal a berth in the group stages of the Champions League will be "disappointing" following last season's hard work.

The Reds finished fourth in the table in the 2016/17 season, behind third place Manchester City, Their league rivals, who finished sixth have made it to the Europe's elite club competition after winning the Europa League in May.

Only the top three teams in the Premier League will get an automatic spot in the group stages of the Champions League. The fourth placed team, in this case, Liverpool will have to overcome the play-off opponent to progress further in the competition.

The Merseyside club will find out their opponent on 4 August, with the first and the second leg being played later in the same month. Milner remains confident that Jurgen Klopp's side have all the ammunition in their disposal to make it to the group stages of the Champions League.

"It's not easy to get into the qualifiers even – top four in the Premier League is tough," Milner told Liverpool's official website.

"We've done part of the job but we have to finish that now. It would be disappointing not to make it after all the hard work we did last year. I'm sure we will.

"We're improving all the time as a team and you can see that over the last couple of years since the manager has come in. We're moving in the right direction.

"New faces come in over the summer and the squad is a year older as well. It is a pretty young squad so that experience of having a successful season last year and hopefully getting some more confidence there can stand us in good stead for the season."

Milner has stressed the importance of Liverpool the pre-season in order to get a good start to the new campaign.

"The off season is always a funny one – you enjoy yourself and relax but you've always got one eye on pre-season and making sure you're right and ready to go again. Obviously it's a big start to the season for us," he said.

"Pre-season is always tough, nobody particularly enjoys it. But with the tours and the [Champions League] qualifier we want to hit the ground running and start the season well. So it's important you're ready to go."

James Milner
James Milner has stressed the importance of the pre-season Getty Images