Press conference: Matt Beard on Arsenal clash and Leanne Kiernan injury latest

LFC WomenPress conference: Matt Beard on Arsenal clash and Leanne Kiernan injury latest

By Steve Hunter


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Liverpool FC Women manager Matt Beard held a pre-match press conference on Tuesday morning ahead of Wednesday night's Barclays Women's Super League trip to Arsenal.

Beard was quizzed on several topics as he previewed the game at Meadow Park, which kicks off at 7.15pm GMT.

Read the key points from his media briefing below...

On having a recent long break between games…

As always, we were waiting to get the players back from international duty, first and foremost, fit and healthy. We had an in-house game on Saturday just to get minutes into everyone’s legs. So, we’ve had a bit of a stop-start return after the Christmas break. We had an eight-week break then we have been nearly four weeks without a game. It is frustrating because if you look back to when we went into the Christmas break, we had started to find a bit of form and get a bit of consistency. It’s been a real stop-start period for us and super-frustrating, but we have tried to do as much as we can to keep the players match-fit.

On facing an Arsenal side fresh from winning the Continental League Cup and whether their busy fixture list could help his team…

I don’t know. It’s like anything, it was interesting watching them play last Sunday and they have turned around what has been a tough period for them. They have had a bit of an up-and-down period themselves, so they fully deserved to win the cup. We are just looking forward to playing again. Hopefully the weather holds out because I’ve seen the forecast this morning. But obviously they will be on a high from Sunday.

On the quality of players Arsenal have at their disposal…

It’s like anything, when they have had people like Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema ruled out of their team, it does have an impact for sure. But they are a world-class team. We know there is a gap between the top four right now to the rest of the teams. From our perspective, we’ve said this all along, we want to be as competitive as we can in this division.

We are not short-sighted but Arsenal have played a lot of games lately. Sometimes when you do win a cup final, it can have a knock-on effect, so hopefully for us that it does. If you look at their last few games in the WSL, the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, the goalless draw at West Ham and the one against Manchester City – they are a world-class team. We will go there, like we always do, to set up to win football matches and we will do as much as we can to do that.

On Leanne Kiernan’s fitness after being out injured since the opening day of the season…

She is, at the earliest, 10 weeks away, unfortunately. She has had a couple of setbacks when she has been back running on the pitch. We have had a couple of different scans just to try to get to the bottom of what’s happening. Obviously she had an injection to try to settle the area around the heel and the ankle. I think we are at the point now where the main thing is we just get her back fit and healthy.

I know with the World Cup looming we wanted to get her back before the end of the season and give her minutes. But I think the key thing now is the type of injury she has had, which is a serious one, is we just get her back fit and healthy. If that is before the end of the season then it gives her the opportunity potentially to stake a claim for the World Cup. But if not, then it will be about getting her right for the summer and pre-season.

On the latest on the injury front for the rest of the squad…

Natasha Dowie is out with a hamstring injury, which is a massive blow for us. We’ve got some challenges. We’ve had a few issues around injuries and we are going to give everyone as much time as possible to be fit for the game. As of now, we’ve definitely got five players missing and that could potentially be seven, but we will give everyone as much time as we can. We’ve got another training session today and then the game tomorrow night, so there’s probably two players who are touch and go.

On how tough it is to play two games in four days after nearly a month off...

I think four days is enough time to recover and prepare for the next one. As I said, we have had some challenging issues injury-wise and I do think the schedule has had a bit of an impact on the injury list we have. You can’t not play for two months and then have seven games in three weeks and then have players going to play three games in 10 days on international duty. It’s a big workload for the players, especially the international ones. It’s frustrating from our end but we have just got to get on with it.

On the importance of being more clinical in front of goal, especially against top teams in the WSL…

Regardless whether it’s Arsenal, you look back at the Leicester City game and see how many chances we had that day. They had one real opportunity, scored, we had numerous opportunities and didn’t score. That’s the difference at this level. When you create clear-cut opportunities, you need to take them or potentially you will be punished. When you play against teams in the top four, you have to be on your game in all aspects from taking chances to ball retention. Arsenal were ruthless on Sunday against Chelsea, and if you look at Emma Hayes’ comments, she said they wanted it more.

Matt Beard column: Return to action, Dowie injury and Arsenal trip

LFC WomenMatt Beard column: Return to action, Dowie injury and Arsenal tripIn his latest column, Liverpool FC Women manager Matt Beard looks forward to a return to action as the Reds face Arsenal in the Barclays Women's Super League on Wednesday night.

On how much confidence he can take from some encouraging performances against the top teams away from home…

For the most part, we have done OK against the top sides, taking the Manchester United game out of the equation. We have just got to believe in ourselves, and I think that’s the biggest thing. We have some talented players at this club, we have a good squad. Wednesday night is going to give opportunities to some players who may not have had the minutes in recent months, so from that side of things I’m excited to see that.

When you do have the injuries we’ve got, sometimes it brings you closer together as a group. We have just got to make sure we concentrate on where we feel we can hurt and exploit Arsenal, and also stop them from playing the way that they play. We've got a game plan and we’ve had a good amount of time to work on that. I think we are in a good place from a tactical point of view going into the game.

On being five points clear of relegation and whether he feels the team are closing in on their target of safety…

Listen, it’s just game by game. At the start of the season, we identified, I guess, a mini-league we would be in and we wanted to make sure we finished top of that. Right now we are in a good position in that mini-league. The key target this season was to retain WSL status and look to see how far we can go. Leicester lost again at the weekend, West Ham aren’t a million miles away from us, so we have aspirations of catching them and finishing as high up this league table as we can.

We’ve got a tough game on Wednesday night and then another big game on Sunday against Tottenham, who are below us. We are confident in the group we have and we are confident we will achieve our targets this year. We’ve had some bumps and bruises along the way, which is part and parcel of football, so I will be in a better position to answer that at the end of this month as to where we are. We are confident we can retain our status in this division.



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