Sophie Barker

We Must Work Hard For Durham Result, Says Barker

Sophie Barker believes LCFC Women must remain ultra-focused going into this weekend's clash with Durham Women, which sees the Championship's top two meet at Maiden Castle (12pm kick-off).
More on this story...

- LCFC Women return to FA Women's Championship action away at Durham Women on Sunday afternoon (12pm kick-off)
- The encounter at Maiden Castle is a meeting of the top two sides in the division, with only goal difference separating the pair
- Midfielder Sophie Barker spoke to the media ahead of the much-anticipated fixture, revealing how City are looking to approach it
- The Foxes can use their historic League Cup run to good effect in the closing stages of the league campaign, she adds

Only goal difference separates the two sides heading into the encounter, and although Durham have played a game more, victory for the north east side on Sunday would see them return to the top of the standings.

Speaking to the media during Thursday's pre-match press conference, Barker says the team are under no illusions of how vital the fixture is, and urged calmness in order to come away with a positive result.

"It's a massive game and we all know that," the former Sheffield United captain admitted. "It's not a title decider, but it is in the sense that we know that Durham are probably one of the strongest teams in this league, they haven't lost all season. That makes it even more of a challenge for us on Sunday.

Women

Goals: LCFC Women 2 Durham 2

All the goals from the Foxes' FA Women's Championship draw with Durham.

"We need to hype ourselves up but not to the point where we're nervous, we need to find the middle ground, that balance of going into the game knowing it's very important, but not to lose confidence either.

"We've got some very good players, they've got some very good players and it will be one of those games where the team that works the hardest, the team that wants it more will come out on top really so hopefully we can come out with a win on Sunday."

The Foxes midfielder outlined why the Wildcats, who have conceded just nine league goals so far this term and remain unbeaten, are such a tough team to break down.

Barker continued: "We know they are a very defensive side and we are going to get chances few and far between really, so similar to the Bristol City game, we need to take those opportunities when we get them.

It's made us a little bit hungrier, it's made us realise that actually we can compete at that level and want to do everything we can to get there, so it's spurred us on a little bit.

Sophie Barker

"In the final third, we often create those chances, it's just that final pass or final shot that isn't right for us sometimes. If we can get that right on Sunday, I've no doubt in the team bringing some goals, but it's difficult because we're going to have minimal chances in the game.

"Durham are a very good defensive team and they always have been, they are very good in what they do. We just need that one chance, but we need to be more clinical."

The 30-year-old also revealed how the Foxes' run to the Continental Tyres League Cup Semi-Finals has motivated the squad, in their first season as a professional outfit, to achieve their ultimate goals.

Reaching the last four of the competition for the first time in the Club's history, City were eventually knocked out by Women's Super League outfit Bristol City, while they had also beaten another top flight team - Birmingham City - during the group stage.

"It's made us a little bit hungrier, it's made us realise that actually we can compete at that level and want to do everything we can to get there, so it's spurred us on a little bit," Barker admitted. "We came away disappointed and to be disappointed with a loss to a team in the league above is a credit to us really.

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Sophie Barker
Sophie Barker

The Foxes were beaten 1-0 by Bristol City in their League Cup Semi-Final at Twerton Park last month.

"I've been at a number of teams and this team is so young, I've never been in a team so young and had to use my experience as much as I do here, but the girls are so willing to learn.

"Everyone's asking questions constantly and the staff are very welcoming of that as well. They don't shut us down in terms of our questions, which is good and I'm still learning at the age of 30.

"It's one of the best clubs I've been at, I've never had the opportunity to be full-time, so that's been massive for me. I've improved my game so much just being here with the coaches, they spent so much time with you in order to improve you as a team and as an individual.

"It shows with the coaches and staff too, we've got some very qualified staff. We have the likes of Emile Heskey here and he brings his experience. It's crazy to know that we spent every day with these guys and we just learn every single day. It's one of the best things I've done really."

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