Manchester City: Does the Women’s Super League team have a defensive crisis?

Manchester City only have four defenders for the start of the Women's Super League season

The start of the Women’s Super League is just around the corner. Teams are currently fine-tuning their starting 11s in pre-season friendlies and getting ready for the opening weekend in September.

Manchester City will go into the new WSL season as title contenders. The side finished second last season, just two points off champions Chelsea. The two teams drew 2-2 in one of the last matches of the season – had City won, they would have lifted the WSL title instead.

As a result, Manchester City will be raring to take revenge on Chelsea. Serious firepower has been added to the squad this summer with the signings of Khadija Shaw and Vicky Losada.

But despite this transfer market activity, City look very light at the back. GiveMeSport Women takes a look at the team’s potential defensive frailties.

How many defenders does Manchester City have?

Manchester City have lost a number of defenders over the summer. Gemma Bonner left England to try her chances at NWSL side Racing Louisville, while Abby Dahlkemper returned to North Carolina Courage.

After an injury-plagued period at City, Aoife Mannion went from blue to red after joining Manchester United, and Megan Campbell moved to Championship side Liverpool.

Lucy Bronze revealed she underwent knee surgery and will miss the start of the Women's Super League season

To make matters worse, star player Lucy Bronze revealed last week she underwent knee surgery. The Lionesses said she had been “managing a lot of pain over the last season” but was now focusing on a “healthy recovery”.

Manchester City have not put a time-frame on Bronze’s recovery, but said the 29-year-old would return to training “in the near future”.

As a result, City are left with just four defenders for the start of the WSL season – Demi Stokes, Steph Houghton, Esme Morgan and Alex Greenwood.

Demi Stokes is one of four defenders available to play for Manchester City

Thankfully for Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor, his line-up of defenders is versatile enough to produce a solid back four. But what happens if one player gets injured? The lack of defensive options also gives City little room to shake it up during a match if players are tiring or a change of plan is needed.

If Manchester City are going to fight for the title, as well as compete for domestic cups and the Women’s Champions League, they could be severely hindered by their lack of depth in defence. 

How can Manchester City fix their defensive frailties?

The signing of 17-year-old Ruby Mace from Arsenal now looks an excellent move from Manchester City. The versatile player is classed as a midfielder, but can also put a shift in at centre-back. She often appeared in defence for Birmingham City during her short loan there last season.

Given Manchester City’s lack of depth at the back, it is likely Mace will be called upon often to play in defence for the club. Other young talents from the team’s academy, headed by Jayne Ludlow, may also be brought in as back-up options throughout the season.

Ruby Mace could play in defence for Women's Super League team Manchester City

If Manchester City do not wish to rely on young players, the club will have to delve into the transfer market once again before the start of the season. Given its resources, it would not be surprising to see the club bring in a defender or two over the coming weeks to fix weaknesses at the back.

Manchester City play Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday 4th September for their opening match of the WSL. The match will be broadcast live on the BBC.

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