Women's Team

Walsh: Lionesses switched on for Champions League challenge

Keira Walsh has reassured City fans that our contingent of triumphant England stars are raring to go in the Champions League.

City start the campaign on Thursday when we face Kazakh side Tomiris-Turan in the Round One semi-final in Madrid, with the winner to face either Real Madrid or Sturm Graz on Sunday.

City’s matches at Real Madrid’s training complex will be available live on CITY+ and our official Recast channel.

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For Walsh, it’s a quick turnaround after lifting the EURO 2022 trophy at Wembley less than three weeks ago.

The deep lying midfielder played all but four minutes of England’s run and was named Player of the Match in the final after an exquisite defence splitting pass for England’s opening goal.

Six of City’s seven players in that now iconic England squad returned to training at the CFA last week, and Walsh believes there will be no rustiness once the match begins on Thursday evening.

Although she did concede that striking a balance between the dual focus of winning matches and shining a light on the women’s game will be even more important after a summer that captured the nation's attention.

“All the focus is back on the Champions League,” she said.

“As soon as we were back in training we were thinking about the job we have to do against Tomiris-Turan and then Real Madrid or Sturm Graz if we win that one.

“I’m also aware of the responsibility to keep growing the women’s game off the pitch and away from our day-to-day job in terms of winning games. We’re all ready to go, we all love playing football so we’re just really excited about it.”

While the 2022/23 season is just around the corner, it would have been remiss of the Club not to mark the return of the Lionesses with a period of celebration.

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Club staff from all departments joined the players in a toast at the CFA on Wednesday, before the players took to the Etihad Stadium pitch before the start of Saturday’s Premier League clash against Bournemouth.

“Everyone was really happy for us,” said Walsh, looking back on those first moments with her club team-mates and coaches.

“The first conversations were about the club being proud of us and to congratulate us. People want to know what the team was like behind the scenes because we were so successful. So they’re learning about the ins and outs of everything off the pitch as well as on it.”

Looking ahead to the campaign to come, Walsh is not shy in her ambitions.

City have made six new signings over the summer, all of whom are full internationals.

Bedding those new talents into the squad will be important in the early part of the season, but with the Champions League a knockout competition before the group stage in the autumn, they must also hit the ground running.

To play her part in that, Walsh is aware she has to bring her form from the summer.

She said: “We had a meeting on the first day, and it was about trying to win all trophies on all fronts this year.

“Obviously the Champions League didn’t go to plan last year so that’s a massive one for us. We started slow in the league as well and towards the back end of the season we were probably the strongest team and the team that was in the best form so we need to start on the front foot and we’re aware of that.

“We’re building the relationships with the new signings on the pitch to focus on that.

“Personally, he told me he wants me to be comfortable bringing the forward passes and quick play here so that was a positive conversation.”

City’s meeting with Tomiris-Turan in Madrid will be available live on CITY+ and the official Man City Recast channel.