Women's Team

Chelsea v City: Taylor on team news

Gareth Taylor says Ellen White is in contention to start in Sunday’s FA Women’s Super League trip to Chelsea.

The City and England striker returned to the matchday squad for Thursday night’s Continental Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur, introduced from the bench for the final ten minutes having missed last weekend’s FA Cup triumph at Nottingham Forest.

Previewing Sunday’s crunch league visit to Kingsmeadow, Taylor explained the forward is pushing to start, alongside Alanna Kennedy, Hayley Raso and new signing Julie Blakstad, while captain Steph Houghton is still doubtful.

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“Ellen’s available,” he said. “We need to see how players check in tomorrow [Saturday] but we have good options.

“She’s got a bit more training under her belt. We were hoping to use her at Forest but we got close to the game and she had a slight niggle and it kept her out.

“it was the same with Steph. It can’t be underestimated the importance she brings. She has a slight niggle at the moment but has a huge presence and is a real leader at this Club.

“Her powers aren’t waning – she brings a lot to us, which is why she’s gone on to be such a success. She's been a real icon and shows no signs of slowing down.

“Niggling injuries can be frustrating for her but you never see it. She always puts the team first and herself to the side. That’s why she’s a warrior and a real leader for us.

“We have the Australians (Hayley Raso and Alanna Kennedy) back, Julie came on [against Spurs] and contributed. The options we have are really good and long may that continue.

“It was nice last night to have such a quality selection of players available from the sidelines. We’re in good shape. We’re still not back to full strength but we understand that hardly ever happens.

“In terms of where we were, we’re in a healthier place in terms of how we’re playing and winning, and also with squad health as well, which is good.

“We’ll prepare tomorrow and be ready for the game on Sunday. We need to carry that momentum through.”

City travel to Chelsea in what many are deeming a ‘dress rehearsal’ for March’s Continental Cup Final with both sides having booked their place in the showpiece at Wimbledon’s Plough Lane this week.

However, Taylor insisted his side are looking no further ahead than this weekend with a huge three points to play for in the league.

“I think there's a lot of football to come before then,” he added. “We have put that to one side and we'll get ready for this next run.

“People will naturally look at it as: whoever’s successful has a divine right to win the Final but it doesn't work like that.

“[To have reached a Final] gives us confidence in the way we play, the way we have been performing but it only goes so far. It’s about performances and getting the details right – not getting carried away and keeping our focus.

“It’s a good opportunity for us against a good team. Fortunately, at the moment we’re in a strong vein of form, looking sharp. That’s the gameplan for us: execute what we do well and go for the win, which we always do.

“The next two games will be [season-defining]. We need to make sure we’re giving ourselves the best opportunity to go and be in a good position still.

“Whatever the results are [this weekend], there’s not a huge distance between five or six teams. It’s about staying in the hunt as best as we can, which has always been the objective and we’re closer now.

“We keep going until the end. It’s such an unpredictable title race this season. It’s probably been different to what we’ve seen before. Anything can happen and it’s good we’re still in the hunt but we're aware of taking one game at a time and the maximum points we can.

“But we never get ahead of ourselves. Our level of performance is really important to give ourselves the best possible chance of a result.

“We’re under no illusions we’re playing against a good opposition. We’re not looking any further ahead than Sunday and are looking forward to it. The most difficult thing is managing that excitement – we need to remain calm and stick to our processes, which gives us the best chance.

“It would be a big win – anyone going and winning there is big. It’s a tough challenge. We understand the danger they bring. We understand they’re a team that if you switch off, they can hurt you but it would be big for us and a big confidence boost.

“They had the edge over us this season. In the last performance, we had good moments but didn’t take them and were punished at the other end.

“It will always be decided on the 'big game moments' and we’re looking pretty good at the moment. We’re hoping for this at the weekend.

“It’s important to go down and get the right result, which takes us into the next game. You get to that part of the season where ultimately you need to get the result to continue the journey.”

Next up at the Academy Stadium, it's Derby Day! Gareth Taylor's side host Manchester United on Sunday 13 February (12:30).

Tickets for the crucial game are now on sale. Don't miss out!

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