Women's Team

Barcelona v City: Taylor provides Houghton update

Barcelona v City: Taylor provides Houghton update
Gareth Taylor has confirmed City will be without captain Steph Houghton in Wednesday’s UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final clash against Barcelona.

The skipper has not featured since making her 200th appearance for the Club in the FA Women’s Super League triumph over Everton due to an Achilles injury, missing the last two victories over Fiorentina and Bristol City.

The manager admitted the European last eight clash has come too soon for the centre-back, with the time frame for her return as yet unknown.

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Meanwhile, Taylor has no new injury concerns with Lucy Bronze also back in contention.

“Unfortunately, we didn't get Steph back in time which is a shame,” he said. “This came a bit too soon for her unfortunately.

“We anticipated it would have settled down by now. It’s in the achilles area from the first game against Fiorentina.

“It’s not settled down as Steph would like. She’s disappointed not to be here with the team.

“It’s difficult to answer when she’ll be back – hopefully it won’t be too far away but we look at what’s right for the player.

“We have to see the bigger picture and make sure they’re back for us for the remaining run in.

“We’re fortunate in that we have good cover. If you look at the last three or four games in all competitions, we’ve struggled for full-backs and had people who’ve done fantastic jobs like Esme Morgan and Georgia Stanway.

“We’re fortunate we’ve got Lucy back and Demi Stokes.

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“We'd love the skipper back too but we got by without her previously versus Fiorentina.

“We have big personalities in the team with different types of leaders – those who lead with their voice and those with performance.

“It’s a good mix and we’re really confident at the moment. The players are enjoying the way we playe and the challenges we’ve faced.

“The way we develop our players in terms of building from the back, I don’t see an issue.

Abby Dahlkemper’s a big player in big games. She’ll cope with it, no problem.”

City will face Barcelona for the first time in professional competition, having defeated the Spanish outfit in a pre-season friendly back in the summer of 2018.

With both sides heading into the clash in a rich vein of form – City victorious in 15 of our last 16 encounters and Barca having won all 19 of their league encounters - Taylor is relishing the prospect.

“It’s got all the ingredients of a fascinating game,” he declared.

“They're strong in their league, scoring a lot of goals, and you could say the same about us.

“We've analysed a lot of their games, especially the cup competition they lost to Atletico Madrid. They struggled to impose their game in that one.

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“I think we have pace in our team – players at the front end who are firing. Again, we're going to try and impose our will on them and see what happens.

“I think it’ll be interesting. We don’t know until the game kicks off. That’s what makes it a fascinating game to look forward to.

“Both of us are very possession-based teams. We want to impose our game on the other.

“We’re not used to not having the ball and the same for them. We want to dominate as much as we can but understand Barcelona will have the same mentality.

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“We need to take our chances, we need to defend resolutely. That’s the same thing I’d say in any encounter – the game’s dictated in both boxes.

“In this competition, especially with a two-leg format, the game is never over after the first encounter.

“We have a lot to do still (regardless of the result) at the CFA. It’s putting everything into this game but also having one eye on the return fixture.

“It'll be very interesting but this is what we're here for: to challenge ourselves and to come up against really good teams.

“Everyone’s looking forward to it. It’s a good challenge for us and them and one we’re really looking forward to.”

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