"The game is in danger at the moment of losing the fan base, when we're desperate to grow it" - Casey Stoney ahead of Manchester United's Continental Cup match
Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

The second of three matches in a seven day span for Manchester United will be the opening fixture of the 2020/21 FA Continental Tyres League Cup against Liverpool.

Casey Stoney's side has enjoyed an undefeated start to the FA WSL season, with two wins and one draw. Where Vickey Jepson's newly regulated Liverpool has kick started the Championship season with three wins and one draw.

Player welfare and visibility in the women's game has been a centre issue with the Continental Cup. Three matches in seven days for all squads this week after having a two week international break and small recovery time in between match days.

This fixture was originally set to be played in the evening, but was moved to a midday kickoff time of 14:30 while everyone is at work. This is not the way to grow visibility of the women's game, "It wouldn’t happen in the men’s game that’s all I’m saying," emphasised Stoney.

"I think the thoughts around it was that it's behind closed doors, so it doesn't really matter. I agreed to it because our game had been moved from the Sunday to the Saturday to 1230. So actually, kicking off at two o'clock for us gives us more recovery time.

"But we were very keen we wanted to get it on MUTV, if it was going to be at that time so our fans [could watch].

"Visibility in the game is massive at the moment, and we're not making the game as visible as it should be. We're not showing enough women's games on BT Sport or allowing us as a club to show it.

"That for me is nonsense at the moment when the game needs to be visible. The game is in danger at the moment or losing the fan base that it has when we're desperate to grow it."

This fixture is set to be shown on MUTV and LFCTV, but most fixtures are not available to watch anywhere including the attractive match up of Chelsea vs Arsenal, their first meeting since the Blues beat the Gunners 4-1 in the league in January. 

  • Injury crisis

Manchester United had three debuts on Sunday against Brighton & Hove Albion, but have eight players out from injury including the rising talent of Lauren James and a highlight to Stoney's summer transfer window, Ona Batlle.

James is out with a quad strain whereas Batlle tweaked her ankle and will be out for a while longer. Ivana Fuso has yet to feature for Stoney since her signing in the summer, the German-Brasilian forward has been caring to a long-term knee injury. 

"We were limited, especially defensively, [against Brighton] I was thinking about coming out myself at one point.

"We've got players that are very adaptable, but it's not ideal. That's why I'm a little bit frustrated that we're playing three game weeks, we've just had three weeks off and we're coming back into a season where yes, we're in a good place [physically] but as much as you can give players individual training programs, you cannot replicate the game so we are going to pick up niggles.

"Fortunately, I can't complain, I've got a very capable squad. I look at other squads who have less resources and less players, and wonder how are they going to cope this week?

"I don't think player welfare is being considered very well, if I'm honest."

Katie Zelem will be available for minutes against Liverpool following a slow comeback to match fitness after testing positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago.

  • Three debutants on Sunday

Lucy Staniforth, Tobin Heath and Christen Press all got their long awaited Manchester United debuts against Brighton. 

Heath managed an assist; a quickly taken free kick from Jackie Groenen saw the American forward cross a ball for Jane Ross to head home for the third of the match.

"It was a it was the right time to bring them on without them feeling like they've got to perform and score a goal.

"It was pleasing to get them all on the pitch and to see Chris' movements, she is very intelligent, the way Tobin can go on one v ones and we know what Lucy Staniforth can do when she's got all her feet. So bringing those three, just gives us an added dimension when we go forward."

  • On facing Liverpool

Liverpool were relegated in the 2019/20 curtailed WSL season and have started their Championship campaign flying, currently sitting at the top of the table.

They faced Manchester United in pre-season and held the WSL team to a 0-0 draw at Leigh Sports Village.

"I was at Liverpool, myself as a player so I know the club very well. I'm hoping the relegation kick starts them as a club in terms of the women's game. And I've got a lot of respect for Vickey as a manager and some of the players I know really well.

"We have to focus on us and what we can do with the ball? You know how we can hurt them? Yes, we know they've got threats. You know, Rachel Furness, I think is a weapon. Melissa Lawley drifts into spaces that makes it difficult for you." 

"We know that they're very capable. I'm pretty confident that if they keep going they'll come back up and be a Super League team.

"It's going to be a tough test for us on Wednesday is going to be about making sure we can win the game whilst managing ourselves at the same time."

  • When and where

The match KO is at 14:30 tomorrow, October 7 and will be streamed on LFCTV GO (Liverpool's home streaming channel) and their YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

The match will be streamed on MUTV live as well.

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