LFC WomenMatt Beard column: Squad fitness updates, Brighton clash and more
In his latest column, Liverpool FC Women manager Matt Beard updates on the fitness of his squad and looks forward to Sunday's home meeting with Brighton & Hove Albion in the Barclays Women's Super League.
We are looking forward to getting back to competitive action on Sunday when we host Brighton at Prenton Park (kick-off 2pm BST).
Apart from Razza [Rhiannon Roberts] who will be missing, everyone else has come back fine from international duty, fully fit, which is good.
During this break we have managed to get more minutes into players who need them with a couple of behind-closed-doors games.
Melissa Lawley and Natasha Dowie returned and got minutes and Shanice van de Sanden got more minutes as well, which was another positive step for us, especially at the top end of the pitch.
We’ve utilised the international break really well. We had Sofie Lundgaard playing a 90 minutes and a 60 minutes for Denmark and she got 90 minutes for us in a friendly at the weekend, as did Miri Taylor.
It’s great for us that we are getting the likes of Mel, Tats [Dowie] and Shanice back. It’s still going to be a bit of a process over the next few weeks, but it’s just great to be able to call upon them from the bench if we need to.
Our captain Niamh Fahey is progressing well. She should be back in team training the week after next, so we’ve got another friendly pencilled in so she can get some minutes.
What’s important now for Niamh is getting her back fit and playing for Liverpool again before the World Cup for Ireland, so she is progressing really well now.
With Leanne Kiernan, we are still taking it week to week. I’ve got no timescale on that but she is doing well at the moment. The most important thing is just to get her back fit, healthy and pain-free on a regular basis.
Tats has been unfortunate picking up a hamstring injury after her comeback game for us. She has done really well in the rehab, she has got herself fit again quickly and she got 45 minutes in a friendly on Sunday and scored, so that’s great news for us.
We have had a lot of injuries this season, especially at the top end of the pitch, but the main thing is we are now starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
We’ve got Brighton and Leicester next before another break, and then we’ve got a tough run-in when we are probably going to have a say in whoever wins the league and who finishes in the Champions League spot, because we play Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
We just want to give a good account of ourselves between now and the end of the season and finish as high up in the WSL as we possibly can.
We are looking forward to being back in front of our own supporters when we host Brighton at Prenton Park on Sunday.
They have got a new manager in Melissa Phillips and I was impressed with how they performed last Saturday in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United.
Obviously I know Mel well from her time in charge at London City Lionesses and they were always difficult to play against. It was interesting to hear why she took the challenge by moving to the USA and then coming back home to take the Brighton job.
I take my hat off to her, to be honest with you, because she wanted to challenge herself coaching some of the world’s best players in America and then this opportunity came to go to Brighton.
I know Brighton well because my brother worked there with their academy so it’s a very good club and I know how they want their women’s team to be successful. I think it’s the perfect fit for Mel and she ticks every box for Brighton with regards to her personality.
This is going to be a tough game. They are organised, which I felt they were against United, and they caused them a lot of problems on the counter-attack.
They are fighting for their lives. We are in a good position in the WSL with a good points tally, so I’ve told the players that we can just go about our business and play with a bit of freedom and no pressure.
As always, thank you for your continued support.
Matt Beard was speaking to Liverpoolfc.com's Steve Hunter