Gareth Taylor says Chloe Kelly and Deyna Castellanos are benefitting from the healthy competition in the City squad in the second half of the season.

Both players have been in good form and were on target in the 7-0 victory over Sheffield United on Sunday in the FA Cup and the City boss says they are finding their rhythm.

Kelly missed most of last season with a knee injury before returning for England’s triumph at Euro 2022 and Taylor said the impact of that setback should not be forgotten.

“I’m really pleased to see her in this rich vein of, training really well and contributing, and looking like she really enjoyed herself last Sunday,” Taylor said ahead of the WSL clash with Leicester on Saturday.


“There is a decent level of competition there, Hayley Rasso’s contributing as well, with Julie [Blakstad] on the other side and Lauren Hemp. I think it’s really healthy competition for the players to have.

“With Chloe we have to take into account that she missed the whole of last season. When you don’t get the number of games under the belt that unfortunately the women’s game doesn’t always give you, it’s so difficult to get any kind of rhythm. This has been a nice period for us because it’s the first time that we’ve had a free week since the New Year.

“I and the players really enjoy playing every few days but you can’t sustain that. It’s almost like feast or famine in the women’s game where you have loads of games in a short period or don’t have a game for ages so to try to get that rhythm, because that’s what they need, is really tough.

“She had an unbelievable high in the summer but we knew that wouldn’t change what we got in the first half of the season because, we knew we have a player maybe still trying to find her way back.

“We saw really amazing things from here in her first season. We know the players in there for sure and she showed that on Sunday and she showed that in training and she’s being pushed by the other players.

“It’s a really healthy place for her to be in and the biggest and most important thing is seeing her with a smile on her face.”

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Castellanos was also on target against the Blades and Taylor said the Venezuelan international has settled into the team well following her move form Atletico Madrid in the summer.

“She has adapted really well, she’s adapted to the game, to the WSL game and she looks a lot fitter than when she first came in,” he added.  

“Sometimes it takes time to train the way we train. Her effort levels have been really good and her quality is improving game by game.

“We knew that once that happened she would start to contribute - her numbers, goal attempts and expected goals are really high, even when she hadn’t scored.  

“We knew it was a matter of time, if she keeps getting in those positions and making the right decisions and things start to turn for her and again she’s playing with a smile on her face and enjoying herself.”

City currently sit fourth in the WSL table and hoping an early kick-off can help put some pressure on the teams above them.

Demi Stokes is in contention to return, but the game is likely to come to soon for Esme Morgan

Leicester will be unable to select midfielder Ruby Mace following her loan move from the Blues. 

“Demi’s back in full training today,” Taylor added. “A first full training session today, she part-trained the other day so she comes back in contention.

“Unfortunately Esme is just a few days off so we’ll see. It might be a late one for the weekend but it’s good to see Demi’s back in.”