Everton and Manchester City face each other for the second time this year, but on this occasion it is in the Continental Cup. City were 1-0 victors at the end of September in a match that was often in doubt given the large amounts of rainfall that had forced Reading vs Birmingham City to be postponed, Steph Houghton slotting in a free-kick from close range.
This game is a must-win for City to find their way out of the group stages. They are currently tied on six points with Birmingham and Manchester United, although the Reds have a game in hand against the side from the Midlands.
Chloe Kelly will return to Willie Kirk's squad after she received a one-match ban for her late second yellow card in the last round of the Continental Cup at home to Manchester United and therefore was ineligible for the Merseyside Derby. However, Esme Morgan, a player who has been crucial in the toffees' season so far, is on loan from City and so is unavailable.
Georgia Stanway netted herself a brace vs West Ham on Sunday, but at the same time picked up two yellow cards, and was sent off in the 71st minute, and will miss Thursday's tie. Demi Stokes was a worry before the game having missed Friday‘s training through injury, but she featured and was taken off early so should be well-rested for Thursday.
Everton: Korpela; Van Es, Finnigan, George, Turner; Graham, Stringer, Kaagman; Magill, Kelly, Cain
Manchester City: Roebuck; Stokes, Bonner, Houghton, Beckie; Weir, Walsh, Scott; Wullaert, White, Hemp
Key Clash: Lucy Graham vs Keira Walsh
Captain for Everton, Graham, has been instrumental so far in the Toffees‘ campaign. She was the only thing that separated the two teams in the Merseyside Derby, her long-range effort spilled by goalkeeper Anke Preuß and dropped into the bottom corner. With her previous club, Bristol City, she netted a penalty in the second half to equal Nikita Parris‘ goal and earn the Vixens a vital point at home to Manchester City.
Competing with her to try and dominate the midfield will be Keira Walsh. The City and Lionesses star is due to return back to the first-team squad after she received a three-match ban against their Mancunian counterparts for a reckless tackle, although the initial decision to send her off generated much debate among supporters.
What both sides have said
Reflecting on their success in the Merseyside derby at the weekend, club captain Dan Turner touched on the cup tie:
"We turn our attention to the Continental Cup on Thursday night, and we know we’ve given ourselves a tough task to qualify from the group stage.
"It’s still mathematically possible, though, and there is no question of us throwing the towel in. We’ll be going out there tonight pushing to win and hoping we can keep our qualification hopes alive until the final game in the group, when we play Leicester City.
"We were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Manchester City in the WSL. We played well on the day and were unlucky not to get at least a point. We know they are a good team and they have a lot of excellent players - but we also know we can compete against them.
"We’re eager to put in another strong performance tonight and get the victory we need."
Candian international Janine Beckie, who has been a mainstay in Nick Cushing's Manchester City team this year, spoke to mancity.com about Thursday's game:
“We’ve had two good results and I think we’re back on track, where we want to be,” she declared.
“Training has been really good and people are coming back from injury, which is great.
“This is a really big fixture for our Conti Cup future and we’re excited. We didn’t feel we performed very well last time we faced Everton so it’s another chance to right a wrong. As always, we’ll be going into the game with a win in mind and nothing else. We’ll be dissatisfied and disappointed with anything else.
“When we play our best, I think we are the best team in the league and in our Continental Cup group.