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Durham Women v Manchester City Women: Match preview

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Manchester City Women will secure their place in the semi-finals of the Continental Cup with a win at Durham on Sunday.

Following last weekend's comfortable 2-0 win over Sunderland Ladies, Nick Cushing's side travel to New Ferens Park in the knowledge a victory would cement a top-table finish in Group Two, with 12 points gained of a possible 15.

Ahead of the clash, the Blues will also be boosted by Toni Duggan's return to fitness.

The striker, who had suffered a six-week lay-off, came off the bench to net City's second goal against the Black Cats and is hoping to regain her place in the starting line-up for the trip up north.

"I've had a good week of training so physically, I'm fit to play - but it's up the manager," she declared. "The team put in a good performance on Sunday so although I'd like to think I can get my place back, that's in Nick's hands.

"I loved being back last Sunday. I'd been asking Nick for weeks if I could start and eventually, we agreed with the physios that I could play 20 minutes.

"To get minutes on the pitch was great but I was delighted to score as well. I've really missed that feeling."

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In celebration of her strike, Duggan launched into an impressive cartwheel before running over to the bench to acknowledge team physio, Helen Vaughan, who had been at the 22-year-old's aid throughout her injury.

Duggan admitted she had been enduring a difficult period with such a lengthy absence but took time to praise Vaughan for her efforts, revealing her goal was devoted to the physio.

"I'd been doing cartwheels in training all week so I had to do when when I scored - but I also went over to Helen," she recalled.

"That goal was dedicated to her. She puts in a lot of hard work behind-the-scenes which goes unnoticed but the players really appreciate it.

"She's been amazing. She's put up with me and it has been difficult but now, I'm back and looking forward to hopefully getting on the scoresheet again."

Durham head into the encounter on the back of four defeats in the competition and in the knowledge they cannot progress to the next stage.

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The Wildcats hosted the Blues in a pre-season friendly back in March with the visitors running out 7-0 winners. Duggan netted a hat-trick that day but is expecting a much tougher test in Sunday's meeting.

"Durham will be professional like we are," she asserted. "They will analyse us and I'm sure they'll come out hoping to make things right from the pre-season game and put in a good performance.

"The scoreline was a bit flattering for us last time but we won't be complacent. We go into every game wanting to win.

"Hopefully, we'll come out on top to put ourselves in the semi-finals."

Kick-off is at 2pm at New Ferens Park, Durham (DH1 1GG). We'll have live updates on Twitter as well as a match report and post-match reaction after full-time.

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