City travel to United for the first meeting of the FA Women’s Super League season, and want to jump back from a disappointing form race and retain local bragging rights.
With only two wins from our seven opening matches and prevented by an injury crisis, City have endured a difficult start to the 2021/22 campaign and are six points behind the Reds in the table.
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Eight players are currently on the sidelines – the most recent Champions League winner Vicky Losada – but Taylor claims the rest of the team have come through in the past week unscathed, adding that Ruby Mace is in conflict with his first minutes, while Alanna Kennedy can also be reinstated in central defense, where midfielder Jill Scott had deputized in recent games.
“Apart from Keira getting a few more minutes under her belt, I don’t think the situation has changed,” he said.
“Vicky is progressing and by the way, it’s a few more days under their belt in terms of their rehabilitation – but in terms of opportunities, it’s the same as the previous game [against West Ham].
“We potentially have four or five on the bench. We have not been able to fill the bench so far this season due to the obvious reasons. Five is good for us because everyone has a chance to move on and it gives us maximum opportunities. We will not be too far away from that number.
“We will see [about Ruby]. She is certainly in conflict and has been that for every fight. It’s a shame she could not play against Leicester [in the Women’s FA Cup] but there is a chance to use her in the Continental Cup.
“We want to do the right thing at Ruby and be under the right conditions to get her first match. We have to look at the size of the game. She settles down well and improves a lot.
“Alanna was unavailable for the Leicester game due to being cup-bottomed but looks like Ruby, she is available tomorrow.
“Using Jill in that situation is not her preferred position, but she has brought a lot into her leadership. She makes a difference for us in these difficult moments. We will investigate that situation tomorrow.
“We have had this situation this and last season – maybe not to this extent, but it is not foreign to us and we are looking to get experience and grades on the pitch and good players.
“We have it – it’s just a matter of finding the right formula. We have shown good glimpses, created lots of opportunities. These are just a few inconsistencies in taking the chances.
“I know what these players can achieve, even with the players we are missing. I still feel like we’ve been unlucky with the results that went against us, but that’s why we love the game – it’s not always champagne football, it’s a match against every team.
“We are suffering with our number of injuries and are really looking forward to getting players back, but in the meantime we are continuing and fighting.”
With more than just three points running on the game, Taylor believes the clash provides the ‘perfect’ match for City to restart our campaign.
The head coach added that the squad is in a good mood on its way into the clash and is fired up and ready to fight.
“It’s the perfect game to return to tomorrow and it’s the players the players are really looking forward to,” he continued.
“With Derbies, coaches always say they don’t have to get the players to do it. It would be perfect for us if we get three points on the board. We want to achieve that.
“We did it on our own grass last year. We were in control and gave credit to United – they fought back – but we showed our dominance.
“These matches have never been won or lost in the first half – you have to be at it all the way to the last minute. That’s what makes these games so special.
“It will be even more special with followers left. The players are looking forward to these matches – both teams want to win and are competitive. It’s exciting for us to look forward to.
“We are looking to jump a good race, but we can not look beyond this game. We have to put all our efforts and strive for it; then we have another match in another competition before the international break.
“We have to focus on this one, really make sure to pay attention to the small details and handle the game in the right way.
“There will be a lot of nerves and emotions around it, which is normal and natural in a Derby. We need to control it and make sure we are in the game and seem to impose on ourselves the opposition.
“The morale has been pretty good. You would expect it to be a little low and confidence too, but the players have been really good.
“The staff has supported them well, and we have had good conversations about where we can improve, while at the same time thinking about the good things.
“We have had a lot of throws at us, but the players have been really positive and sharp in training. That’s all you can ask for. ”