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Catching up with... Toni Duggan

Manchester City Women and England striker Toni Duggan is back in action.

The forward suffered a knock in the Blues' Continental Cup victory over Liverpool at the end of August and was ruled out for the remainder of the FA Women's Super League season.

As a result, she was forced to miss out of the crucial final weeks of the campaign and having endured a lengthy spell of rehab, the 24-year-old is now back playing. She has featured twice for the Development Squad in their games against Aston Villa and Liverpool, netting in each.

We caught up with the Liverpudlian, who is thrilled to be back to full fitness and hopes to be called up to the England squad for next week's clashes with Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina...

In Toni Duggan's words...


 I'm so happy to be back. It's been tough being out injured, especially as it was at a crucial time of the season. We could have won the league and we had some key cup games as well.

It's been a difficult year to be honest. I started it with an injury that I thought was going to be more serious than it was and I had my first operation, but City have helped me a lot. In those first few months, I learnt a lot about myself and the people I was working with, as well as the best solutions going forward.

It's been easier with this latest injury in terms of managing it but harder because it came during the season. It's been frustrating on the sidelines but credit to the Club for the way they've treated me because it's really helped.

I've been doing some extra sessions at boxing and I've tried out some of the other training methods. I haven't just been stuck in the gym, doing the same thing day in, day out - that can be mentally draining.

In the last few weeks, I've been playing for the Development Squad. I had 60 minutes against Aston Villa and completed the full 90 against Liverpool on Sunday, which was a really good game.

Duggan Development Squad

They had a couple of first-teamers playing which challenged me fitness-wise and I needed that sharpness on the pitch. It was a good run-out.

I scored in both games and I'm happy to have been hitting the back of the net, continuing the form I had after the World Cup.

It's always a nice feeling to score, no matter what game it is - a friendly, a reserve game or the cup final. I'm a striker and I want to be scoring goals.

Sometimes, strikers can go through a rut so I'm fortunate to have kept that momentum going. Even while I was injured, I was doing drills to keep up my finishing and it's paying off.

I'm really enjoying playing with the Development Squad. They're a great bunch of girls and they've welcomed me into the group. There's some great talent - you forget how young they are - and it's brilliant to see the ability coming through.

I've been cautious with how I've come across. Of course, I've been trying to encourage the players and help them but although I'm a first-teamer, I'm just one of them at the end of the day. They're footballers and I respect them. I can't say I've been pulling people aside and giving them advice - I've probably been more quiet than usual.

They play in the same way as the first-team which helps and hopefully, some of them will make the step up to the senior squad next season.

Duggan

I'm hoping to be picked for the England squad now. There's been communication between City and England to let them know I'm fully fit. I knew I needed games under my belt to stand any chance of going away with them - you can't just come straight in and play against Germany and then a tough qualifier against Bosnia.

We sat down and set targets a few weeks ago, which I've been hitting. Hopefully, I'll get another one this week with the Development Squad and if I'm selected, I'll meet up with the England team next week.

I've never been so nervous about a squad being released. When I was injured, Mark [Sampson] told me I'm a big part of the squad and their plans - but a lot of girls have been doing well and he's been giving new talent chances.

He might want me to take time to get over the injury and look to the New Year but I've made it clear I want to get back playing as soon as possible.

I've missed quite a lot of internationals through injury - the Cyprus Cup earlier this year and a few more. I'm keen to get picked and I've made myself available so we'll just wait and see now...

It's a bit weird but I'm actually looking forward to having a break over the winter. It might seem like I've had one but it is tough doing rehab. You get days off here and there but it's difficult mentally.

It's constant hard work so I'll be glad to take some time out. Then I'll come back in January, sit down and set some targets for the new season. 

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