- The Foxes’ maiden home fixture in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League will take place at King Power Stadium on Sunday
- Manchester United are the visitors for the 2pm kick-off, which will see supporters return for the first time since LCFC Women turned professional
- Sophie Howard spoke in Thursday’s pre-match press conference about the team’s desire to make it a memorable occasion
- Everyone is raring to go again and determined to bounce back from defeat to Aston Villa, the defender told the media
The Foxes’ 2021/22 Barclays FA Women’s Super League journey continues with their debut home fixture on Sunday (2pm kick-off), against Marc Skinner’s Red Devils.
Howard, signed in the summer of 2020, previously played on Filbert Way during the team’s FA Women’s Championship coronation, although that event was behind closed doors, and she is yet to experience the atmosphere that a home crowd can generate.
Speaking in Thursday’s pre-match press conference, the 28-year-old told the media that the players will look to absorb the occasion, but once the game is underway, all focus will be solely on trying to secure their first points of the campaign.
“To play at King Power Stadium and for us to be able to call that our home ground now, is incredible,” she commented. “Personally, I’ve never played in front of any Leicester fans so it’s going to be a big event, a big moment and we’re really looking forward to having that support.
“We obviously had supporters at Villa but this is going to be different. We can have this overall feeling of this being our home and that builds strength and confidence. You’re always strongest at home, especially with the support we will have on Sunday.
“It’s a skill to make sure that the occasion doesn’t get to you. You strip it down to being 11 players against 11 players on a football pitch. Then the stadium, the fans, everything that’s going on around it doesn’t matter.
“As soon as that whistle blows, your head is in the game. We’ve done it before when we had the trophy lift game at King Power Stadium, we made sure the occasion didn’t get to us and we succeeded. We’ve been there and we’re going to do it again.”
City began the new campaign with a narrow 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa last weekend, but according to Howard, the group’s collective spirit remains strong as they continue to find their feet at the highest level.
The Scotland international explained: “It’s never easy to start the season with a loss but the fortunate thing about football is that you get another chance. We have that this weekend. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and move on from it.
Age doesn’t have everything to do with leadership. It’s a character, a mentality. Even the younger players that potentially haven’t played in the WSL are up for the fight.Sophie Howard LCFC TV
“The biggest thing is that as a squad, we stick together. We win together, we lose together. You could tell that afterwards. There was no blaming, there was accountability, there was taking ownership.
“Mistakes happen, but you can’t let them define you and that was the theme in the changing room, that we’re going to have to fight back. We’ve got a point to prove to ourselves more than anyone else. We’re definitely ready to go this week.”
Howard spent two years in the top-flight with Reading before helping Leicester claim the second-tier title in their first season as a professional outfit, and also referenced the importance of carrying WSL know-how within their ranks.
“It’s crucial to have experienced players,” she continued. “Those who have been in that situation, players that have played in the WSL before, to take the younger players and lead them a little bit.
“In every team you have less experienced players, but the few of us that are more experienced have that role of bringing everyone together and getting everyone ready for this season.
“But age doesn’t have everything to do with leadership. It’s a character, a mentality. Even the younger players that potentially haven’t played in the WSL are up for the fight.”
Embrace The Experience, Says Howard
Ahead of Sunday's Barclays FA Women's Super League fixture with Manchester United, Foxes defender Sophie Howard spoke in Thursday's pre-match press conference at Belvoir Drive.
Assessing the threats that the visitors will pose, the centre-back says they are well aware of the quality within the Manchester side’s ranks but are focusing on their own ambitions to kickstart their season and put down a marker.
Howard added: “We know Man United are a class side, they have very, very good players, top individual players but as a team they bring it onto the pitch together as well. We’re very aware of that.
“However, we’re not in this league just to make up numbers. We’re going into this game to fight, to battle, and we’re going for the win. Of course, we’ve analysed United, every opposition needs analysing, but that’s not going to throw us off.
“The names they potentially have within the team, that’s also not going to throw us off. They’ve had a lot of transition with new players coming in, but so have we, so I don’t think that’s going to be a factor.
“We’re ready for Sunday. We’re going with our philosophy, with our style of play, wanting to execute our game. We’ve made massive steps and we’re going to fully embrace it.”
All times BST.
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