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'We're fresh and ready to go' - Oxtoby

Tanya Oxtoby's team have returned ‘fresh and ready to go’ after their winter break as City prepare to face Brighton and Hove Albion in their first game of 2021.

 

City ended 2020 with a loss to league leaders Manchester United in their last fixture of the calendar year, and Oxtoby says that the break came at the right time for her squad, giving her players an opportunity to relax after a hectic schedule in December.

“I think everyone enjoyed their time at home with their family, it’s been a long time coming and the girls have come back fresh and ready to go, so the trainings been really, really good since we returned,” said Oxtoby.

“It’s been a tough year for everybody and we're very aware that we're lucky to do what we do, but it doesn’t make it any easier. We’re still away from our family and our friends as well, so to have that time and that headspace to be able to go and just sort of switch off for a day or two is really important.

“As I said, the girls have come back in and they’ve been great, and it’s probably come at exactly the right time for what we needed."

Oxtoby has been boosted by Aimee Palmer's return to fitness (JMpUK)

The Robins ended 2020 on the back foot after a string of positive performances earlier in the season, and Oxtoby will be hoping her side can re-discover that form when they host Brighton at Twerton Park on Sunday. 

“It’s been a tough start to the season for us, after the Brighton game were halfway through and we’re a point off where we were last year.

“Confidence plays a big part; we’ve worked really hard since we’ve been back in on exactly that. The processes and the principles of our play is being confident, particularly in possession and we need to be better in possession, there’s no doubt about that. That will allow us to be a little bit more creative and sort of get out of our shape a little bit more effectively.

“The girls have been good since we’ve been back in, nice and positive and it will be a really good test for us against Brighton on Sunday because they’re a good side so it will be good to see where we’re at in terms of all the stuff we’ve been working on.”

Ebony Salmon will be looking to add to her four goals this season (JMPUK)

Oxtoby’s side had some tough-luck with injuries and illness in the first half of the season which has resulted in limited availability throughout the squad, however the boss hopes that her side can have a turn of fortune in the second half of the season and that the players can use what they’ve learned so far for the games ahead.

“Confidence and keeping players fit, that’s the two key things going into the rest of the season. I think when you’ve been through what we’ve been through since the start of the season your confidence is obviously going to take a knock, we’ve got a very young squad, our average age is 21/22 so it’s tough to go back out there every single week and try and prove yourselves against some seasoned internationals in other squads. 

“We’ve got to keep pushing on and keep trying to develop ourselves and building that confidence in our performances is really important so keeping players fit and having them available consistently is also going to be key for us for the rest of the season.

Jemma Purfield will be aiming to build on her stellar start to the season (JMPUK)

“If we can execute and be consistent in what we’re trying to do and be positive on the ball, we give ourselves every chance, 100%, but like any game when we don’t do that we seem to get punished, so we need to make sure our transition moments are good.

“We need to be better in those areas and we’ve been working really hard on that in training, both when we give the ball away and when we win it back. From our perspective, it’s a fixture that we’ve had positive results and performances in previously, so that gives us a little bit of confidence similar to the Reading game when we went there. 

“We’ll see what happens, all we can control is our performance and the way we execute. Like I said, Brighton’s a really good side so we’re going to have to be on our best form to get the result.”


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