Gareth Taylor says his players have returned in 'good shape' after the international break.

City host Aston Villa at the Joie Stadium this Saturday lunchtime (12:00 UK kick-off), looking to put pressure on Chelsea and Arsenal who meet on Sunday.

Taylor says his players are in good spirits – despite the disappointment of the England stars who missed out the UEFA Nations League finals and qualification for Team GB at next summer’s Olympic Games despite beating Scotland 6-0.

“It’s straight back into it for them,” said Taylor.

“We have a short period and a short timeframe before we play on Saturday against Aston Villa.

“Normally we get an extra day by playing on Sunday, so it’s good we’re at home because it helps us logistically.

“That short timeframe becomes very important and how you work that. 

“Availability wise, we’re still waiting on our two Australian players (Mary Fowler and Alanna Kennedy) to return.

“They’ll be back tomorrow. The girls look really good. The spirits are good. It was a difficult couple of days for the England’s players.

“In terms of the atmosphere and the way the girls have come back in and the way they’ve come back in, and everything looks positive. 

“It was very tough to watch. I spoke to Sarina [Wiegman] earlier today. I didn’t know what was going on. They did what they had to do with an emphatic scoreline.

“Speaking to her it was a positive on the back of a negative. Obviously we’re not going to the Olympics but that’s football.

“I thought Esme [Morgan] at centre-back and did well and having that familiarity with Alex Greenwood would have helped her. She’s a top prospect with great attributes.”

Taylor also paid tribute to the professionalism of Laura Coombs.

Now in her fifth season with City, Coombs has only started two FA WSL games so far this season - but Taylor says she is the consummate professional who has a major role to play, both on and off the pitch.

“You know with Laura it’s not an issue,” said Taylor.

“What she presents and the way she trains is phenomenal. She’s an inspiration for the young players. Incredibly fit gives everything, works hard without the ball, has an amazing shot and we’re starting to see more of great personality.

“She’s a quiet leader and helps young players by giving them motivation and gives them tips about the way she performs – that is the biggest thing.

“Whether she plays or not she gives everything to the team.”