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Media Watch: Walker's Wembley rally-cry

LION HEART: Kyle Walker is set to figure for England against Spain on Saturday night

LION HEART: Kyle Walker is set to figure for England against Spain on Saturday night

Our Saturday media round-up is trained on England’s opening UEFA Nations League clash against Spain tonight and tomorrow’s start of the new Women’s Super League campaign.

Fresh from their World Cup heroics, England return to the Wembley for the first time since reaching the semi-finals in Russia and City defender Kyle Walker, who was one of the shining stars in the summer, is again set to be a key figure for the Three Lions.

And looking ahead to the clash with the FA.com, the Blues right-back said the challenge now for England was to prove they can beat the very best nations – starting with Spain.

“This is the first time we’ve been back since the World Cup. We’ve heard it’s going to be a sell-out and that’s what we want. England don’t play too often in the season so whenever we can get back to our home stadium and put on a display for the fans, it's great,” said Walker.

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“We want to play good football for them, because we’re entertainers at the end of the day.

“Spain have got a good pedigree and they’ve proved it over a number of years now with the players that they’ve brought through and those who have come onto the scene.

“A few of the players have retired now, and I play at City with a special one of those in David Silva, but they’re not short on numbers after that. They’re going to be a tough opposition for us, but I also feel they need to be wary of us.

“That’s something which we as a team need to do, beat the top-ranked nations in the world because we haven’t really overcome that hurdle yet. We need to start ticking those boxes.”

The headlines are also dominated by the start of the new Women’s Super League season – and the latest instalment in the rivalry between City and Chelsea.

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The two teams, who have emerged as the dominant force in the women’s game over the past few seasons, kick-off the 2018/19 campaign on Sunday with Nick Cushing’s City visiting the home of the defending champions.

And writing in the Guardian, Paul Wilson reports how City and England midfielder Jill Scott now believes the rivalry between the two clubs is now the biggest in the game.

“There’s definitely something that has grown between us over the last few years,” the England international said.

“Both sides have got that fight and desire and the rivalry is getting stronger every year.”

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Scott has won the league with City, albeit in a season shortened for transitional purposes, and knows how difficult it is to defend a title.

“Every team wants to beat you,” she said. “We were disappointed not to win a trophy last season when it looked as if we might be on course for silverware but reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League was a massive step forward.

“It is a bit strange to be facing a team like Chelsea so early in the season but we have some good experience to fall back on now. When you have played teams like Barcelona and Lyon you know what to expect in big games, and this is going to be another one.”

For his part, City manager Nick Cushing is convinced top-flight women's football is now more competitive than ever.

Cushing has won four trophies since taking charge at City in 2013 and, according to Sky Sports, the City boss is expecting this season - the eighth edition of the FA Women's Super League - to be the closest one ever.

He said: "There is the element that not being successful [in winning a trophy last season] is a big motivator for myself and the players, but I also think that is almost two-fold where the league this year is the most competitive it has ever been.

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"So we are motivated to get back to trying and winning silverware, but at the same time we are well aware that it is going to be probably the most competitive WSL season that we have ever had."

“Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror carry a report claiming that City are keeping tabs on Real Betis star Junior Firpo.

The Mirror report: “Firpo has been identified, but with the La Liga club inserting a £54m release clause in his contract, he won't come cheap.

“Called up to the Spain Under-21 side, Junior is quickly making a name for himself and now Guardiola is tracking his progress, claim eldesmarque.

“Should he join, that would then make City's left-back group alone worth more than £100m - it's clearly a position that Pep values highly.”

Finally, back on the international front, Vincent Kompany played 45 minutes for the Belgium national side last night as the Red Devils powered to a hugely impressive 4-0 friendly win away to Scotland.

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