Manchester City are currently in a never-before-seen team crisis.
The Sky Blues have been pummelled with injuries and will now be forced to play in the FA Cup with a squad that is completely stripped bare.
A total of seven senior players, including both first and second choice goalkeepers, are injured and three more are doubtful ahead of tonight’s fixture.
Alex Greenwood is the only fit and eligible defender on City’s roster for this evening. Ellie Roebuck, Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Esme Morgan, Millie Davies, and Chloe Kelly are all sidelined with respective injuries.
Demi Stokes and Lauren Hemp are also a doubt but are being assessed ahead of the match. Meanwhile, Keira Walsh could be fit enough to return, but nothing is certain.
There is also the frustration of having both Alanna Kennedy and Ruby Mace cup-tied. The two summer signings, who previously featured in the FA Cup for their former teams, are not eligible to represent Man City in the same tournament.
This has depleted Gareth Taylor’s team by a total of 12 players – which is torrid news for a side many tipped to challenge Chelsea all the way for the Women’s Super League title this season.
Taylor has also confirmed he will not be calling upon any youth players to feature in tonight’s FA Cup clash against Leicester.
“Our academy players are not even training close to our programme, so it’s very difficult to kind of thrust someone in at short notice, so we’ll go with what we have and we’ll make the best of it,” he said.
GiveMeSport Women has predicted how Taylor will line up with just one recognised defender in his ranks and his attack watered down severely.
There’s been a lot of speculation over how Taylor will line up at the back against Leicester. Indeed, all eyes will be on his defence when the official team-sheet is released.
Greenwood has recently been operating as a centre-back for both club and country and looks comfortable in her new role. Fortunately, City have the experienced Lioness to lead the back line, but it’s who will join her that is the million dollar question.
If Walsh is given the green light, she would be the smartest option to partner Greenwood in the centre-back position. However, this leaves the left-back spot wide open.
With Stokes a doubt and Greenwood preoccupied, the pressure may fall to Georgia Stanway, who has played at right-back on numerous occasions despite being a winger by trade.
The 22-year-old may need to be played completely out of her comfort zone and fill the gap on the left, while Janine Beckie, another forward turned defender for City, once again slots in at right-back.
City’s midfield isn’t too much of an issue, as Taylor will still be able to field new signing Vicky Losada and powerhouse Caroline Weir. Laura Coombs has also been taking advantage of more minutes on the pitch lately, so it’s likely she will make her sixth start of the new season.
Up front, the Citizens are missing Hemp and Kelly – two extremely influential attackers – and have Stanway and Beckie tied up elsewhere on the pitch. Fortunately, Ellen White is still available, as is new signing Bunny Shaw, who will be looking to boost morale with a goal or two this evening.
The only remaining available forward on the squad list is Jess Park, who has been given a lot more opportunities recently. The 19-year-old came on as a substitute against both Spurs and Arsenal in the WSL, and now she could be looking at her first start of the season in the FA Cup.