Manchester City Women

Man City flex newfound squad depth in WSL win over Reading

Ali Rampling
Manchester City's squad depth shone in their victory over Reading
Manchester City's squad depth shone in their victory over Reading / Naomi Baker/GettyImages
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Manchester City were able to flex their newfound squad depth as they gave their Champions League hopes a boost with a 2-0 victory over Reading in the WSL on Wednesday evening.

Injuries plagued City's first half of the campaign, with numerous key figures sidelined, Jill Scott deputising and centre back and Lauren Hemp carrying the team at times from the left flank.

During Wednesday evening's victory over Reading, City had the luxury of rotating Hemp out of the starting lineup, before later introducing her on the hour mark.

The winger was just as influential from the bench, terrorising the Reading backline, clattering the woodwork and getting on the scoresheet to seal the victory for City.

"She gives you such energy and she's so dynamic," Gareth Taylor said.

"As much as I wanted to start her in the game to keep a winning team, we know with the schedule we'd have to make changes and she would be that type of player [to drop out] because she probably takes longer than anyone else to recover with the amount of energy she puts into a game.

"But what a substitution to have - we had really good options on the bench, so things are coming together nicely."

Having put in a shift at lef- back against Tottenham on Sunday, January arrival Julie Blakstad started on the wing against Reading in place of Hemp. The Norwegian impressed with her speed and athleticism - and came close to breaking the deadlock in the first half.

Taylor was also able to introduce Ellen White and Jess Park from the bench, while Olympic champion Janine Beckie remained an unused substitute - a far cry from earlier in the season when City fielded a makeshift back four and could only name six subs in defeats to Arsenal and West Ham.

"The competition now to get into the team is really high," Taylor added. "We've got some really good players who didn't get on the pitch tonight.

"There's players on there who are competing and working so hard in training, and that's great, because it drives the level of performance. Julie helps with that, she'll push Lauren, but she's also capable of playing at fullback as you saw at the weekend, and in the attacking midfield positions.

"It's a fine balance between freshening the side up and keeping the rhythm.

"As much as you'd like to keep the same team as a coach, we've got so many good options that we didn't have at the start of the season that when you're able to bring on substitutes tonight like Jess Park, Ellen White and Lauren Hemp, it helps you massively as a team."

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