Women's Team

City v Chelsea: Taylor on team news

City v Chelsea: Taylor on team news
Gareth Taylor says Steph Houghton will be monitored on a weekly basis with the hope of a return before the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

The skipper has not featured since earning her 200th appearance for the Club in March’s victory over Everton due to an Achilles injury, and looks likely to miss Wednesday’s crunch, top-of-the-table clash with Chelsea.

Providing a squad update ahead of the must-win encounter, the Head Coach added he has no fresh injury concerns.

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“I think that apart from the ones we are aware of, everyone has come through okay,” he stated.

“I don’t think there is anything different from Saturday’s game against Villa. There are no new injuries. We are looking pretty good.

“It’s still similar with Steph with it being relatively painful in that area. As much as she wants to do more and push it more, that pain is giving her an issue.

“I think it will be assessed on a weekly basis. There may be a chance to get her back for future games, especially after winning the FA Cup game, which extends the season by an extra game in mid-May. Fingers crossed.

“Steph has done an enormous amount this season. It's about looking at the bigger picture. For the sake of one or two games, we don’t want to jeopardise her opportunities in the summer with the Olympics or put her out further down the line."

Victory over Chelsea would lift City into pole position for what would be a second league crown – with just two games of the league season remaining.

While there will still be work to do after the final whistle – whatever the result – Taylor admits Chelsea’s visit essentially marks a title decider.

WATCH: Gareth Taylor: Chelsea title decider a moment to cherish

“It looks that way,” he agreed, “but there is still more football to be played after this game.

“I am sure that’s what both coaches will be saying after the game tomorrow – there is still a job to do. It is a big game.

“I think we have shown amazing concentration and desire to get to this point so that’s a massive well done to the players. We are excited and looking forward to it.

“This is where we wanted to get to in early February when we beat Arsenal and came back to the City Football Academy and beat United on the Friday.

“That gave us hope and an opportunity that if we looked after our own end, it would be in our hands. To be there in this moment is fantastic and what an opportunity.

“It is a big moment. These are the reasons why you coach and why you want to be a manager – for moments like this.

“I saw Pep Guardiola’s comments at the weekend about big games. This is what we are in it for. It’s where we want to be.

“I think it is a great advert for the women’s game – two big clubs slugging it out. These are the moments we should cherish.

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“I think we have developed [since the first league game against Chelsea] – we have experience, more games under our belt.

“If you look across both squads, there is experience of these types of games. It will help those players – having been there previously: what it looks like and how it can affect them during the game.

“When you look back to pre-season and the Community Shield with Chelsea, they were potentially a couple of transfers ahead of us.

“We were waiting on players and when they came, we had to get them acclimatised. That takes time.

“From when we played at Kingsmeadow, we are a different team, we have had more experiences.

“We still need to improve. How do you improve? By working together for a longer period of time.

“The signs have been good. We have got ourselves in a fantastic position and we want to finish it off.

 “Chelsea will be pleased to have big games coming up (they face a Women’s Champions League semi-final on Sunday).

“There is never a right or wrong time to play a title rival, particularly with the squad they have. They have good numbers so I don't see that being a major issue.”

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Taylor also shared his thoughts on the news of the proposed new European Super League.

“I think there has been a lot of reaction and not all of it good,” he said.

“For us, no-one knows what it looks like for us in the women’s game. I am a coach and my job is to make the players stay focused for tomorrow's game.

“I trust the club to make the right decisions. We are not a part of those decisions. When I have more information, I am sure I can give more of an answer.

“My take was that it was more focused on the men’s game and the part around the women’s game was thrown in quite late at the bottom of many other bullet points.

“You want to play the best teams and those teams (Lyon and Wolfsburg) have been right up there over a number of years. To take that away wouldn’t be ideal.

“I suppose it is what we are getting instead. The information is in its infancy so it is hard to give our view.

“We haven’t been given a lot of information and until that point, it is hard to give our thoughts. There has been a lot of discussion and angst but for us, with three games left of the season, it is hard for us to take our eye off the ball.

“I don’t see it as a huge distraction. It is in the headlines and some games get overlooked because it is big news.

“For us, it is fine. People understand it is the climax of the season for us. The focus is still there. I don’t see the frustration. There hasn’t been on our part.

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“We are focused on the game tomorrow. We are looking forward to it. There wasn’t a need to discuss it this morning. We just crack on.

“We trust the club to make the right decisions. They have been amazing at helping the women’s game so for us it is about focusing on the remaining games of the season.”

Meanwhile, Taylor welcomed the news that FA WSL and Championship match officials will transfer to the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL).

“It’s brilliant news,” he said. “To come under one governing body will help everyone.

“I think it is amazing. It improves the infrastructure.

“We always want to be looking at ways we can improve the game. It’s a positive step forward.”

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