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Smith to make managerial debut

It will be a moment of personal pride when Lauren Smith takes to the dugout for the first time as Bristol City Women Head Coach.

Her side face Crystal Palace at Hayes Lane on Sunday (August 29th, 2pm KO) as the 2021/22 FA Women’s Championship kicks-off.

Smith said: “This will be the first time I will have been able to sit and be a head coach and not fill in for everyone else. I will be proud, and this is a club that feels like home so I hope I can do it proud.”

Smith has helped rebuild the squad over the summer and has been preparing her players for a first test of the season.

She has hailed the strengths within the club’s ranks and pleased with how the new-look team has come together in pre-season.

“They’ve gelled really well and quickly. Everyday we’re seeing a little snippet of someone else doing something, linking up with people and we have a really passionate group of players and great people.

“We’ve worked on different shapes and principles and they’re willing to try everything. They’re really open minded and that’s testament to the players and their experiences to this point. It’s been a very smooth sail so far which means there have got to be some rocks at some point!”

She continued: “We have some excellent firepower with good options in the front line. Every day they challenge each other, they push each other. We’ve seen Abbi Harrison put the ball in the back of the net in pre-season, she’s been noticed and Mel Johnson who we recently signed is a known goalscorer in the Championship.

“Behind that we have solid players to make sure we are defensively secure…there are special players in there and together we’ve created a squad that can build.”

And Smith expects it to be a competitive campaign in the Championship, which she describes as “a blank canvas.”

Smith said: “I think it’s going to be more exciting than the WSL because there will be points taken off everybody. In the WSL you get the top four, the middle league and then the relegation battle. It’s very set but in the Championship it’s a blank canvas. There’s been so much change of players, management, facilities and team who were part time in the past are now full-time…I don’t think it will be easy to pick the top two or three even. It will be an open league.”

Fans are reminded that the women’s season opener against Crystal Palace will be streamed live on the FA Player. 

Supporters will need to register an account with the free online streaming platform before being able to watch the action. 

ACCESS FA PLAYER HERE


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