Women's Team

Taylor: Kelly set for comeback

Gareth Taylor has confirmed Chloe Kelly is available for selection in Saturday’s trip to West Ham.

The winger, who was named our Etihad Player of the Season in her maiden campaign with the Club, is ready to earn her first minutes of 2021/22, having recovered from an ACL injury.

Head Coach Taylor had declared in the build-up to last weekend’s postponed fixture against Birmingham that Kelly could feature in this Saturday’s visit to the Hammers.

Speaking to the press ahead of the game, he echoed his statement but warned it may take time for the 24-year-old to rekindle her influential form.

Asked of the latest team news, he replied: “Nothing dissimilar to previous apart from Chloe being available for minutes.

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“As long as she comes through training tomorrow and then we travel, Chloe has a good solid base of training under her belt.

“Having a player like that come back into the squad is great. We don't expect the level we saw last season straight away but who knows? She looks sharp and is ready.

“A lot of time and hard work has been done away from here. Suffering that type of injury is a tough slog – it isn't short-term recovery. It’s something she needs to maintain.

“It's a fairly common injury – even more so in the women's game. It’s not new and we know what it takes to recover. She's put in a lot of hard work and has been to America as part of her recovery.

“She's looked good. Then, it was back out on pitch and then with the full group. She was more pleased than anyone the Birmingham game was called off because there’s more chance for minutes!

“It's exciting. Having players back is great. All players who have come back have managed the situation well.”

Taylor also shared an update on captain Steph Houghton, as well as midfielder Vicky Losada and defender Esme Morgan.

“Steph is going to be a bridge too far in terms of minutes before the end of the season,” he said.

“That was clear quickly after surgery. Her main objective is to be ready for the Euros with England. She's moving in the right direction.

“She's out of the boot now and stepping up rehab. I think at the moment, it’s a big ask to make the Euros but with the determination and support she has, we will give it a go.

“Vicky is close to being back out. Esme has been last three or four days. We are looking at next season for Esme but hopefully, for Vicky [that isn’t the case]. We will need the likes of Vicky back to add to the group.

“With international breaks you never know how players will come back – not just with injuries but their wellbeing. The more options, the better.”

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City travel to West Ham for the first of two trips to the Chigwell Construction Stadium, which sandwich an international break – Saturday’s clash a league fixture and the second: a Women’s FA Cup semi-final tie.

The Hammers emerged victorious from the FA Women’s Super League meeting at the Academy Stadium back in October and Taylor says that although City are in a much better place now, there was plenty to learn from the defeat.

“We've watched that game back a lot and analysed it,” he continued. “Our back four was completely different and we have Ellie [Roebuck] back in goal.

“It was about taking our chances. In that game and against Spurs, we created enough chances to win three or four games, let alone one.

“We are making more of our chances now. We are different proposition now. We need to learn from that, respect our opponents and pay enough concentration

“They have lost only twice at home, and it’s a stat to be wary of for us. It’s not easy there and they are building something. They are a solid part of the WSL now and they will want to push on.

“These games are very similar in terms of venue but in different competitions. It’s great. It’s exciting for us. With the game last weekend being called off, it gave us more time to get decent training time into the players. That was great.

“Then the second game, the important part is keeping in contact with the players on international break because we don’t have a lot of time before it.” 

Taylor guided City to an impeccable March with five wins from five, including our Continental Cup success over Chelsea, 14 goals scored and four clean sheets.

As a result, he earned a nomination in the league’s Manager of the Month award, while Alex Greenwood made the Player of the Month shortlist and Laura Coombs was included in the Goal of the Month category.

The Head Coach expressed his pride, especially to see his players earning deserved recognition for their efforts.

“It’s amazing for the players,” he smiled. “The players get me to that nomination as coach. I don’t know what I need to do to win one! I keep working…

“There's been some really good performances and it’s great there is some recognition. 

“We are in a good rhythm. We feel confident. We know the effort it’s taken to get to this point. We won a good trophy and have an opportunity to win another and an opportunity to get into Europe.

“Where we were at the beginning of the season, we would have taken that but we want to improve and that will improve results even more so.”

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