Vicky Losada hopes Lioness Keira Walsh can bring her Euro 2022 winning form to Manchester City’s quest for Champions League qualification ahead of their showdown with Real Madrid.
City face the Spaniards, who knocked them out of the competition last season, at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Sunday as they try to close in on a two-legged group stage tie.
They will do so with seven members of Sarina Wiegman’s triumphant England squad at the disposal of boss Gareth Taylor, and none of them more key to their cause than midfielder Walsh.
Asked about the importance of her 25-year-old teammate, Losada said: “I’ve been on different teams, different leagues, and she’s just unique. We have to take care of her mentally, we know she has played so many games.
“We want her to be on top tomorrow because, for me, she is the one who controls the tempo of the team, and yes, its distribution.
“We saw her help Ella Toone at the Euros so we want more from her because not many players can do that.”
Taylor also appreciates the central role that the discreet Walsh plays in his team.
He said: “She’s a real character, believe it or not. She avoids the limelight, but she’s a real character.
“She’s highly respected within the squad and she’s really essential for us as a player, and she’s proven that with England as well.
“But for us, of course, it is very important. She makes the team flow very well with and without the ball and again she will feel confident after the success of the summer.
Taylor knows his side will face a tough task in Madrid if they get the better of Real, having won their place with a 6-0 demolition of Kazakh side Tomiris-Turan on Thursday night, but is also aware of the blow inch provided by its winner. Lionesses.
Asked about the impact the success of the summer has had on his England contingent – Walsh, Lauren Hemp, Ellen White, Chloe Kelly, Alex Greenwood, Ellie Roebuck and Demi Stokes – physically and psychologically, he replied: it has been great, the confidence that it obviously gave to the English players first, but also to the group in which they returned to the club.
“We have a lot of England internationals here who haven’t made the squad, we have a lot of international players and to have someone or players involved in this success is huge.
“Other than that, with the physical and mental side, I think it’s too early to say. Hopefully we will have opportunities during the season to look after the players and give them some time off. because the demands on the players are really high now.