Nick Cushing believes the Women’s Super League is becoming increasingly competitive and says City face their hardest task yet to win the title.

The growth of the women’s game has seen standards improve, with the likes of Everton, Tottenham, Birmingham and Reading now looking capable of disrupting the established order.

Indeed, City were made to work hard for our narrow win at Everton on Sunday, our last game before the latest international break, and afterwards Cushing said the depth of quality across the division is becoming increasingly clear.

“This league is super competitive now,” he said. “We know Everton, Birmingham, Reading will all be difficult games and the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal will be a real challenge.

“We’ve just got make sure we rest as a coaching staff and when the players are back we get them ready for Birmingham.

“Everton and Reading have improved their teams. It’s going to be super competitive this year and draws can harm your chances of winning trophies.

“To turn this game into a win was really important.”

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The development of the women’s game was perhaps best exemplified by this summer’s World Cup in France – a tournament that captured the imagination of football fans everywhere.

It has seen an increase in interest and participation in this country after England’s fine run to the semi-final stage, and the WSL has clearly benefited from the post-World Cup boom.

Cushing believes the spread of quality throughout England’s top division is great for fans and insists he welcomes fiercer competition.

“The days of 2014 and 2015 when two teams dominated everybody, that’s gone,” he said.

“It’s so much better for the fans and for the game. We want there to be four or five teams who compete for the league.

“We want teams to push for cup finals. That will grow the game. As a coach it will make me work harder and makes the challenge greater.

“I’ve got to find solutions and make sure the team is prepared better to play against better teams.”

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The challenge for Cushing’s side is to raise their own game and stay in the hunt for the game's major honours.  

City's last title came in 2016 - but last season we finished second, losing just once, and collected both the Women's FA Cup and Continental Cup. 

Cushing believes the improvement in the domestic league will get more out of his own players as they look to reclaim the title and win the Champions League. 

“If you look at the likes of Caroline Weir, she’s been excellent," Cushing said. "Last year she was good, but maybe she didn’t reach her full potential.

"Pauline Bremer is scoring consistently, Janine Beckie is chipping in with goals.

"They’re players we wanted more from last year and were in and out of the team and now they’re in there and pushing hard.

"Of course, we make the challenge hard because teams are better and at the moment the players are taking that challenge and performing well to get wins.”