Will the return of Esme Morgan alleviate Manchester City's right-back woes?
Photo by Martin Smith via VAVEL Images

If there's been one issue that's plagued Manchester City across the 2019/20 campaign, it's been the spot left at right-back since Aoife Mannion suffered an ACL injury back in October in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid.

Janine Beckie, and more recently Georgia Stanway, have stepped up to keep a four-strong back-line for the blues, with neither Nick Cushing or Alan Mahon opting to choose Matilde Fidalgo for the role. This has left both of these players' attacking talents underutilised, and often results in defensive weaknesses against the better sides in the division.

Impressive at Everton 

In the summer of 2019, young defensive talent Esme Morgan departed the City Football Academy on loan in favour of Everton, a team where she would be able to get more minutes in the Super League under her belt. 

The England under-19 captain has impressed since she made the move to Merseyside. A regular starter for the toffees, she has made eleven league appearances and has helped to solidify the defence in a side that has often looked promising under Willie Kirk this year.

Everton's boss praised her when talking to mancity.com earlier in the season, highlighting that she is developing well in her time out on loan:

"I think Esme has done well to date. There have been some inconsistencies in her matchday performances, but we expected that and it’s part of her learning process. She is desperate to learn and improve and is a joy to coach.

"She has good speed and endurance which is obviously part of her game as a full-back. Her delivery into the box is good from open play and dead balls and she is continuing to develop her passing range with both feet.

"I think Esme can achieve whatever she wants in the future. She has a fantastic attitude and work ethic and she should be, and is, targeting on reaching the very top of the game. Hopefully, Everton can play a part in that path."

Could she be the difference?

With the league currently suspended due to the global COVID-19 outbreak, it looks as if it will be Chelsea who are victorious in the bid for the Women's Super League title, with them one point behind and with one game behind on City.

The addition of Morgan also brings with it increased height in Manchester City's backline, complimenting the tall central pairing of Megan Campbell and Steph Houghton.

The 19-year-old would be a fitting replacement for the right-back position that is currently vacant whilst Aoife Mannion recovers from her injury. This then frees up Janine Beckie and Georgia Stanway to play in a position further up the pitch, further bolstering the club's attack.

Talking to mancity.com, Morgan spoke about how she has progressed whilst playing for the toffees

“It’s been really nice to play regularly. I never expect to play – at Everton, we have a lot of competition for places and you never know who will be selected in the starting XI. I think that’s why we’ve been so successful this season – because of the intensity in training, playing within positions and pushing each other to make each other better.

“I’ve been working hard in training and I’ve had some good performances. I hope to continue that. I’ve been really focusing hard on the defensive side of my game and I’ve put a lot of time in with Chris to improve on my one-v-one defending. That was one of the things City highlighted for me to work on and I think it’s shown in my game."