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Beard focused on sharpening the Robins ahead of the season run-in

Matt Beard believes his Bristol City Women squad will need to become sharper and fitter as they embark on the second half of their 2020/21 Barclays FAWSL journey.

The Robins boss has been at the helm for just over a week and he has his sights firmly focused on raising the intensity and fitness levels of the squad, ahead of taking on Chelsea at Twerton Park this Sunday.

“It’s been a whirlwind. First and foremost, I have been pleasantly surprised with the players and quality they have got,” said Beard.

“We have found ourselves in the position where we have had a few injuries and the positive COVID-19 results haven’t helped with key players missing, but as I have said before, we have enough within the group to win football matches.

“We need to change a few things and do it drastically, we need to get sharper, our intensity needs to get better and that will come with training and games.

“We’ll be using this week and maybe the Chelsea game to get some minutes into players and look at it almost as a mini pre-season because we have got a big couple of weeks coming up.”

Following this weekend’s match-up, the Robins face four games inside 12 days as they take on Brighton & Hove Albion (January 30th), West Ham United (February 7th) and Tottenham Hotspur (February 10th) in the league as well as an FA Continental Cup semi-final against Leicester City (February 3rd/4th).

Beard said: “We have the semi-final to look forward to as well as big games against Brighton and West Ham, so we have an opportunity to get some work into the players. We want to get a little bit sharper and fitter and set ourselves up for the February, March and April period.

“We’ve got this weekend’s game with Chelsea which will be tough, but I have got to look at the bigger picture and the months ahead. There are players that need to play and get minutes so, not only do we have a fully fit squad to choose from, but create depth and competition amongst the group.

“The pleasing aspect is apart from the long-term girls we have everyone back in training. Once we have Carla, Sophie and Jemma back in, I’m really excited to see what this squad can do.

“Chelsea is a tough task on the best of days. Chelsea and Everton won’t define what happens for the rest of the season, playing against Brighton twice, West Ham, Villa, Birmingham - those will be the games that define our season and where we end up finishing.”


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