- LCFC Women manager Lydia Bedford previews Sunday's Vitality Women's FA Cup tie
- The Foxes face Tottenham Hotspur at The Hive in the fourth round of the competition
- Bedford believes performing well in the cup can have a positive influence on City's league season
- She also is looking to build momentum ahead of a crucial run-in of fixtures
Aiming to bounce back from a last-gasp WSL defeat suffered in last weekend’s home fixture against Aston Villa, focus quickly shifted towards Sunday’s FA Cup Fourth Round tie against Tottenham Hotspur (2pm GMT kick-off).
With a week of uninterrupted preparation under their belts, Bedford believes City will move into the encounter fully equipped to tackle Rehanne Skinner’s upwardly mobile outfit at The Hive, as she explained during her pre-match press conference from Belvoir Drive.
“The mood has been good,” the former England youth coach told the national media this week. “On Monday, the girls were still hurting and, on Tuesday, we had a few open and honest conversations, but then we focused very much on the positives.
“I think any fresh change brings a different mindset. This is a little bit of a free hit for us. Clearly our focus is the league and not the cup, but any kind of progression in the FA Cup becomes a real bonus.
With the history of the FA Cup, I’m excited. But I’ve got to keep my eyes focused on the right prize. It gives us a chance to see where we’re at without the pressure of knowing that the result affects our league campaign.Lydia Bedford
“From our perspective, we’ve got a really important league game the following week (against Birmingham City) so it’s also just about how we manage ourselves to be in the best position for that.
“The benefit of the FA Cup is that it is at the weekend, it’s not an additional backlog of fixtures, so we can prepare for it as we would do any league game, but it doesn’t have an impact on future league games. I think that’s the beauty of the FA Cup this weekend.
“We’re looking to see a performance to match what we’ve seen when we’ve been at our best in the past two or three league games and we’ll focus more on that than the result because ultimately our focus from a results perspective needs to be on what’s happening in the league.”
The clash is set to be Bedford’s first FA Cup tie with the Foxes and she is eager to experience the prestigious competition - and do well - which would continue Leicester's strong record in recent seasons, reaching the last-eight two years running.
Pre-Spurs Work At Belvoir Drive
An insight into LCFC Women's Vitality Women's FA Cup preparations, ahead of facing Tottenham Hotspur.
To do that, though, they will have to overcome an in-form Spurs side with lofty ambitions of securing European football thanks to their strong league standing heading into the second half of 2021/22.
The Lilywhites are currently positioned fourth in the WSL and have also progressed into the semi-finals of the Continental Tyres League Cup, so look set to provide one of Leicester’s toughest tasks of the campaign.
City’s manager continued: “It would be unbelievable for the Club to progress and certainly we’re not going to take the game lightly. We’ve prepared for it exactly how we would any other game since I’ve been in. Nothing has changed.
“With the history of the FA Cup, I’m excited. But I’ve got to keep my eyes focused on the right prize. It gives us a chance to see where we’re at without the pressure of knowing that the result affects our league campaign.
A key focus for us is how we start the game. We were disappointed at half-time last Sunday when we got together with how we started that first half, but then really proud of what they went out and produced in the second half.Lydia Bedford
“Rehanne [Skinner] has done fantastically at Spurs. She came in midway through last season and had an opportunity to start building. I think her recruitment has been key to that. They’ve started the season really well, which I’d expect.
“She’s a really organised, detailed coach that will have her players very clear on what they are being asked to do and you can see the togetherness within the group when they’re playing.
“I’m expecting a really good competition this weekend and a real chance for us to test ourselves against a team that is sat right in the top half of the table because they’ve created that themselves this season and gone out and beaten teams at key moments.”
There’s a healthy mix of experienced senior professionals and hungry, young talents within LCFC Women’s ranks, and having added two more players earlier this month in Missy Goodwin and Freya Gregory, as well as welcoming back several squad members from injury, Bedford hopes they can push each other to reach new heights between now and the end of the season.
We're Not Taking This Game Lightly, Says Bedford
Manager Lydia Bedford discusses how LCFC Women are preparing for Sunday's Women's FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur.
“The characters that we have around the building are really key,” she explained. “And that’s going to be important in those big moments, like we experienced at the weekend. It’s important that the whole group is together.
“We want competition from the bench. We want the players that are starting to be looking over their shoulder and still feel like they need to perform to keep their position.
“A key focus for us is how we start the game. We were disappointed at half-time last Sunday, but then really proud of what they went out and produced in the second half.
“The key for us is consistency. We started strong against Brighton and we went in at half-time with momentum and carried that through into the second half and managed to see out the game.
“And as we’ve reflected on this week, it's how we finish. If we get ourselves in a good position, we now need to get good at keeping that and seeing those games out to help us with some of the critical league games that we’ve got coming up.”
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