Gareth Taylor says United States stars Rose Lavelle and Abby Dahlkemper are ‘pushing for starts’ ahead of City’s UEFA Women’s Champions League trip to Fiorentina.

The World Cup winners were named on the bench in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Everton with Lavelle introduced om 68 minutes, having struggled to build a consistent run of games due to injury throughout the campaign.

Without a weekend game and holding a 3-0 lead from the first leg, Taylor was asked in his pre-match press conference whether he would be inclined to ring the changes, such as reintroducing the American duo into the starting line-up.

The City boss replied he had been yet to decide on his team selection but added that whoever was chosen, there would be no drop in standards or ability.


“Abby is pushing to start,” he said. “Rose is looking to get a consistent run in the team.

“At the end of the day, it’s down to her and her performance – and whether she can stay free of injury.

“In terms of positioning, she’s capable of playing in any of the front five positions. She’s a very good player, a very intelligent player and she has the ability to affect the game wherever she plays.

“Everyone is training really well. We have a healthy squad, although there have been players who have been missing for some games, or have needed to be managed for some games…

“We’ve got another 24 hours. We’ll see how a few players check in.

“We don’t play again until next Wednesday so we have a little bit of time but I’ve always said we’ll make changes and when we have, it hasn’t detracted from the team performance.

“Those players who get the opportunity push those on the pitch and in training, making sure they knew they’ve being pushed from behind – and that’s really important.

“You have an outline structure of where competitions sit and when they take place but it’s really important to focus game by game. Once this game is done, we’ll focus on Bristol away.

“We don’t look to far ahead – it’s dangerous to do that. Whatever competition we’re in, we want to be successful, making sure we’re right there when it matters.

“Hopefully, we’ll perform to get through the tie. The third goal [in the first leg] was important.

“People talk about breathing space but no tie is ever over after the first game – we still have to do a professional job to give ourselves the best chance.

“No matter who I pick, I hope that happens. We had a good performance last week and made a good start. We’re looking forward to the game.”

With such a commanding lead, Taylor was also quizzed on what he expects from our Italian opponents, who require a 3-0 win to take the tie into extra-time.

The Head Coach asserted his side will be ready for any eventuality, approaching the game no differently to any other, and gain as much from the experience in Italy as possible.

“We need to be aware [that they have to go for it],” he added. “Sometimes, when you have nothing to lose, teams can come out and be braver.

“The last three teams we’ve played in all competitions have been difficult to break down with a low block. It could come that way and be a case of damage limitation but they could also come out and really go for it.

“We need to be alive and aware of that, and I’m sure we will be.

“It’s deemed a good scoreline to have in the first leg – home or away – which is great, and it’s really exciting to be able to travel to Florence. We’re very fortunate for that to happen and we’re looking forward to the game.

“These games are extra special and the players would agree. It’s a different format, more tactical and more thought goes in, in between games in terms of what’s required.”

With Chelsea having progressed to the quarter-finals earlier in the day, having defeated Atletico Madrid, the last eight is already starting to take shape.

Naturally, Taylor hopes to be following the London outfit into the latter stages but asserts there is no pressure on City to go on to lift the trophy at his first attempt.

“We’re under no illusions,” he stated. “We have a good squad but there are many other good squads in this competition as well.

“I’m not sure it’s ‘imperative’ that we win it but we’ve had a couple of slight failures in the last few seasons, going out in the earlier rounds.

“Chelsea are a good team and everyone back home should be hoping both teams can go as far as possible in the competition. It’s really healthy for the English league.

“We wish them well. It’s great they’ve got through and we are trying to do the same.

“If we’re fortunate to be in the hat for the quarter-finals, we’ll be expecting a really tough team. That’s what you expect – all other teams have done tremendously well to get to this point.

“To get into the quarter-finals would be progress if we’re able to do that. Then, we’ll look further and beyond.

“In cup competitions, it comes down to which team turns up with a performance and has that extra but to get across the line.

“You don’t get second chances. We’ll take things game by game and make sure we’re ready to go as far as we possibly can.”