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Duggan: It's back to business now

Toni Duggan insists City's England stars are now fully focused on helping the Blues to a strong finish to the season.

The striker - one of five Lionesses to star in her country's historic World Cup campaign - swept jet leg aside to complete a full 90 minutes for her club on Sunday, scoring the winner to secure a vital victory over Birmingham.

The 23-year-old told mcfc.co.uk she was delighted to find the net after enduring a dry spell in Canada - a fact her teammates had teased her about.

"It feels fantastic," she declared. "There was a bit of banter flying around when I got home.

"The team gave me a balloon which they'd wrote on congratulating me [on my bronze medal] but at the bottom, it mentioned my goal tally so I've got one over on them now!

"I really enjoyed the goal because of the banter - but I can accept it to be fair. Whether I scored in the World Cup or not, it was a great achievement - but it was nice to get back scoring again."

The forward was also quick to thank compatriot Jill Scott for her part in the crucial strike, after the midfielder battled through the visitors' defence and crossed to the backpost where the striker was waiting to pounce.

Said Duggan: "I have to give credit to Jill. It was brilliant work - she put it on a plate for me and I owe her one! She was excellent in Canada and it's no surprise she's carried that form on with City."

In one of the highlights of the day, the Academy Stadium hosted a record attendance for the FA Women's Super League with 2,102 turning out to show their support.

Duggan asserted the team were buoyed by the vocal following and hopes the fans can continue to back the Blues to the end of the season.

"The crowd were superb," she smiled. "We saw the stands start to fill up when we came out for the warm-up and that was nice. We got a record figure and the stadium looked packed.

"We want to encourage more people to come and if we can open the other two stands one day, that would be amazing."


Reflecting on the win itself, the striker admitted there was room for improvement but was pleased the team were able to claim three points considering the circumstances.

"It’s been difficult because we've had such a short space of time since we came back - but we’re professionals and we’re used to it," she stated.

"I think we’ve made a good transition from World Cup mode to club mode. Steph Houghton got Player of the Match, Lucy Bronze was great again and Karen Bardsley kept a clean sheet.

"It was always going to be a hard game. We had some players missing and it was difficult to gel together after so long apart but we won and that's all that matters.

"Our performance wasn't quite at its best but some patterns of play were exceptional and that's down to the coaching staff. They've had us back early and it's been tough to get used to but it was worth it because we got the three points.

What we did with England is a great achievement - we’re not going to shy away from that and we should be able to enjoy it - but it’s back to business with our club now.

"Thankfully, we have a few more days to prepare for the game against Bristol Academy on Saturday - and a few more nights of sleep!

"We're still recovering from the jet lag but we gave it our all against Birmingham and the players that have trained so hard while we were at the World Cup really got us through. It was a great win for us.

"Hopefully, we can get two wins from two on Saturday. It's going to be a big second half of the season for us."

Welsh winger Natasha Harding, who sustained an ankle injury in the first half of the win over Birmingham, will undergo a scan later this week.

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