I was really pleased with our 2-0 win over Bristol City last weekend. It was a fantastic performance from us in and out of possession. I thought the girls were fantastic and their quality and work-rate was something we asked from them before the game and they gave me that in bucketloads. We deserved to win the game and it was great to see Bethany England getting two goals. Beth is in great form for us and she has worked so hard focusing on making sure she gets into the right areas. She has a lot of quality and it was just about getting her to execute that, which she is doing for us. You can see how hard she is working for us and she is getting her just rewards.
The one downside of the win over Bristol was the news that we will be without our captain, with Gemma set to be out for between eight to 12 weeks with ankle ligament damage. It’s a massive blow to us. Gemma is a very strong person, she is a great leader and we will support her in getting her back fit as fast as possible. It is a blow but it also gives an opportunity and opens a spot up for someone to take an opportunity, and that is how the others in the squad have to look at it. We need people fighting for shirts and Gemma being out is fortunate for someone else because they might get an opportunity to get a run of games if they perform well.
We have Amy Turner back now, which is a major boost for us, Ellie Fletcher is not far away and Satara Murray will be back in action soon as well. We also have three young centre-halves in our development squad that again have potential to play at the top level so they will be sniffing around this opportunity. The shirt is there for someone to come in and stamp their claim for a place and make sure they cement it and say: ‘I’m going to be the one who is going to take advantage of a bad situation’. We have a great group of players here and I am confident we can keep up our good start to the season.
I was delighted to get a new signing in before the deadline when we managed to bring in England U20 international striker Rinsola Babajide from Watford Ladies. It was a late signing on deadline day and it’s one we have kept our eye on. We played Watford in pre-season and Rinsola caught the eye. She is a player who is extremely direct and fast, technically good. She fits into my philosophy and how I like to play the game, and we heard one or two clubs were looking at her, so we decided to make the move now rather than wait.
She wasn’t quite ready to play last weekend but she will be a fantastic prospect for us, not just for this season but the long-term. With Rinsola, Niamh Charles and Ali Johnson we have three of England’s U20 forwards so it’s not a bad place to be for us. Once we get Rinsola up to speed with this level and how we play I think she will be an exciting player for this football club. We will have Niamh back soon after her injury. We have to be careful with Niamh and Satara as I don’t want to rush them back until they are ready to be back in the squad. Hopefully in the next 10 days, fingers crossed, we will have a few bodies back.
On Sunday we go on the FA Cup trail when we host Watford in the fourth round at the Liverpool County FA Ground in Walton Hall Park (kick-off 1pm GMT). Because of availability we couldn’t play at Widnes so we have to play at a different venue. Hopefully we are able to get some supporters who are attending the men’s first-team game with Tottenham Hotspur later that afternoon down to support us. Watford will be tough and we can’t underestimate them. We have watched some of their footage and it’s one of those games that can prove to be difficult if we don’t perform at the level we expect. We have to make sure we perform to our standards and if we do then we are a match for anyone in the country. We are always confident but we have to deliver on the day.
After the little break we have had, we then face a run of some tough matches on paper with Arsenal at home followed by a trip to Manchester City, which will certainly test us. We normally try to focus on one game at a time but unfortunately the schedule dictates that we can’t do that. We just have to get on with it and it’s the same for every manager and every club. For us, we have to make sure we prepare right and manage the squad over the coming week. In effect we have three tough games in a week so we will have to be capable of competing in all of these games. It will be an interesting but exciting week to look forward to and we need to be at our best.
Thanks for your support,