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London City Lionesses travel to face league leaders Durham Women FC

With the second international break of the season drawing to an end, league football is once again back on the agenda.

But how did the Lionesses spend their time during this pause in the Championship calendar?

For manager Mellissa Phillips, the time away from club football has certainly not been wasted.

“We look at the international break as an opportunity to stretch ourselves both individually and within small groups,” remarked Phillips.

“So, from a physical loading and a mindset standpoint, we did some analysis on ourselves and really evaluated trends within our game and where we can improve.”

Yet of course not all members of the squad remained at Princes Park during the international break, with Rianna Jarratt and Atlanta Primus receiving international call ups, with Primus’ for Jamaica being the first of the career.

”It's fantastic for Atlanta,” said Phillips, “She versatile to play any position in the front 5 but has settled nicely into a 10 role recently. She’s a true professional and she's got a tremendous work ethic and those things bode well when you get to the next level.”

Such a work ethic has been essential for all the team this season, especially in the last game week, where City faced tough challenges in the form of Watford and West Ham. But with the dust having now settled on the two results, what’s the mood in camp around them?

“I think we all came away from the Watford game expecting and wanting a little bit more of ourselves when it came to the score line,” said Phillips.

“But you look back and there's a lot of positives to take from that game in the way that we dominated possession and the opportunities we created.”

As for the narrow defeat to West Ham in the Continental Cup, Phillips was full of pride for the way the team performed against WSL opposition.

“They're a difficult team to play against as they play a very unique formation,” remarked Phillips, “but our girls managed the game incredibly well, and we had good spells in possession and opportunities where we could have nicked a goal off of them and at least have drawn level.”

However, over the last week all eyes have been on Sunday’s opponents, league leaders Durham.

"When you prepare for Durham, you always know that it's going to be a competitive challenge and a battle, but I know that our girls are prepared and ready for it,” said Phillips.

“You look at Durham and they always have a real sense of identity and physicality about their game.”

“But then you look at us and I would say the same thing. I think that teams do have a sense of fear when they play against us, because we are very organized without the ball and then with the ball, we control tempo and dominate large spells of the game.”

Of course, one should never lose themselves in the league standings too early, yet with the Lionesses in third, this promises to be a real sceptical for the fans.

“When it comes to the standings in the table, this is just the next most important opportunity for us. Being separated by two points from Durham, of course makes it an important game as we both have high ambitions,” commented Phillips.

“It will be an incredible match up to go up and play them at their place and really challenge for the position that we want to be in.”

Yet for London City, much credit has to go to players and staff for implanting their identity onto the team.

“Our style is the result of all the hard work in the week by the team and that’s how we've been able to execute such a clear identity.”

London City take on Durham Women FC this Sunday at 12:00! Check out the FA Player for all the highlights!



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