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London City Lionesses head north to face Liverpool

After 119 days, the FA Women’s Championship is back, with London City facing Liverpool

Women in their opening game of the season this Sunday.

Those days away from the league have not been unproductive, however, with London City

bringing in 10 new signings to Princes Park.

So, what kind of player was manager Melissa Phillips shopping for this summer?

“Part of our recruitment process is that we wanted footballers with high quality experiences

and but more importantly, we wanted people of good character and we wanted players

who are driven and ambitious and match the values of the club," said Phillips.

"Despite having 10 new faces, it feels as though our team's been together for a really long

time, even in just the short pre-season. And that's a credit to the way that the players have

come in and integrated.”

Each of these players will undoubtedly play a key role in helping to integrate Phillips’

identity on the pitch. But just what is that identity going to be this season?

"Everyone wants to say that they pride themselves on being a possession-oriented team.

And I think for us, it's just about the relationship that we have on pitch and how we interact

and communicate and work off the ball together.

But something that we take a lot of pride in is playing to the strengths of our personnel and

making sure that everyone feels confident and clear within their roles and expectations of

their position and how we want to play.”

Phillips went on to add: “We also always want to be an incredibly hard team to play against,

and we ensure that by being very well organised in and out of possession and that we're a

group of competitors.”

One of those 10 new recruits brought in over the summer is Republic of Ireland striker

Rianna Jarrett. A prolific striker, it is hoped that Jarrett’s presence can inspire the Lionesses to

even greater heights this campaign.

Manager Phillips had this to say of her new signing: “We knew we were getting a very high-level forward with a proven track record of scoring goals. But what we've gotten in addition

to that, is a fantastic leader.

She's somebody who speaks confidently in front of the group, provides perspective of her

experiences both internationally within the Super League and off the pitch as well, with how

to manage yourself as a professional, which is something that we really take pride in within

our club.”

But how has the former Wexford and Brighton forward fitted into life at Princess Park?

“So far, I’m settling in very well, and obviously as Mel said there's been a lot of new faces

arrive this summer. So, I suppose that's helped me settle in. And all the new players and

new staff have created such a great environment.

Obviously, it’s a lot different from what I'm used to back in both Wexford at home and then

also Brighton, as both of those being close to the sea is something that I miss. But life in

Dartford has been good so far.”

However, Jarret’s road to joining the Lionesses has hardly been smooth. On her journey, she

had this to say: “I suppose it's been a crazy 18 months for everyone, really. But for me, I've come to a position where I'm able to play full-time football.

“I was able to train regularly and especially during the pandemic. So, for that, I can't be thankful enough. I was finally able to put aside my full-time job and I was able to focus

mainly on who I am as a player and what the requirements are to be a full-time athlete.”

All this preparation will be essential, as London City prepare to take on strong opposition in

the form of Liverpool Women, who finished third in the Championship last season.

Speaking about the Merseyside club, Phillips had this to say: “What a great way to start the season. Liverpool have been a favourite in the league, I'm sure last season and as well as

this season.

But championships are won one game at a time, and that's how we'll approach it, because

every game will be as important as the next that we face. And it's a great opportunity for us

to showcase ourselves on the road.”

For Jarrett, however, the match will see her reunited with her fellow Republic of Ireland stars

Niamh Fahey, Leanne Kiernan, and Megan Campbell.

“Yeah, there's a lot of familiar faces in the Liverpool set up. Us Irish, we're kind of scattered

all over the place at the minute, which is fantastic.

And then obviously, she's [Fahey] been at Liverpool for a while now and I come up against

her day in, day out when we're training and with the Irish team. So, I do enjoy a little battle,

with her being a centre back and me being a centre forward.”

She added: “But I’m really I'm looking forward to seeing the girls after the game again,

talking to them and catching up.”

It remains to be seen, however, just how cordial the international teammates will be after

the final whistle has blown.

Liverpool Women vs London City kicks off at 14:00 on Sunday, the 29th of August at Prenton Park.

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