Women's Team

Taylor provides fitness update on City duo

Gareth Taylor has provided the latest news on the fitness of Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw and Caroline Weir ahead of City’s Continental Cup clash with Leicester Women.

The duo were unavailable for selection in Sunday’s 6-0 victory away to Brighton, as City began 2022 with a deserved three points in the Women’s Super League.

Taylor’s side face three matches in the space of just six days, locking horns with Leicester for a spot in the Conti Cup quarter-finals just three days after that victory against the Seagulls, before a WSL trip to Aston Villa on Saturday.

With this in mind, the City boss said he would be patient when it came to Shaw and Weir’s return to the first team fold.

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“We’re waiting on Caroline and Bunny,” Taylor revealed.

“Bunny might be a little bit closer than Caroline but we just don’t know what that looks like because there’s a return to training and playing protocol that every player has to go through.

“Whether that’s too soon for the weekend, it looks that way, but we’re doing our very best and the medical team are working really hard to try and give us that option.”

City will also have to deal with the absence of Australian duo Hayley Raso and Alanna Kennedy, who are both representing the Matildas at the Women's Asian Cup over in India until early February.

However, the welcome return of Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton following lengthy injury layoffs provided a major boost to the squad ahead of our victory at Brighton.

Bronze started the match at the People’s Pension Stadium - her first appearance of the season following knee surgery in the summer - while captain Houghton was a late substitute having recovered from an ankle injury sustained on England duty in September.

But while Taylor is pleased to have the Lionesses duo back available for selection, he reiterated that they will gradually be bedded back into the team.

“It’s about managing the players we have. Lucy’s obviously not played a lot of football, it was her first minutes of the season in January which is incredible really.

“And Steph is obviously returning, it’s good to get them back on the pitch but it’s just about making sure we don’t overuse or underplay which can also be a problem sometimes.

“It’s a heavy schedule, three games in six days is really tough especially having come off the back of the winter break.

“Losing Hayley and Alanna to the Asian Cup has dropped our numbers down.

“That can happen, literally in the space of 24 or 48-hours things can change.”

Assessing the squad as a whole, Taylor believes City are in a good place to attack the new year with a renewed impetus.

The boss believes our 6-0 win over Brighton demonstrated that the players were ready to hit the ground running in 2022.

“(The players are looking) really good,” he reflected.

“It’s never easy because you have players visiting family and going back abroad, but we had a few training sessions (over the break) and then we restarted with everyone together.

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“Fortunately at this moment in time we didn’t have too many COVID cases or not too many that had an impact on the group but that can change, we know that can change quite quickly.

“But for the time being we’re not too bad, we’ve obviously got a heavy run of fixtures and like I say everyone’s come back looking really fit and sharp and we made a good start on Sunday.”

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