A BROKEN wrist and a bruised foot are unlikely to prevent Glasgow City midfielder Jess Fishlock from playing a full part in tomorrow’s eagerly awaited Uefa Champions League last 16 first-leg tie against Arsenal.
The Welsh captain flies with the rest of the City squad to London this morning despite fracturing her wrist in a World Cup qualifier against England a fortnight ago. “I’m wearing a cast which is Fifa-approved,” she pointed out. “The foot is still bruised but that won’t be a problem either.”
Fishlock, who joined City on loan from Seattle Reign in the summer, has just the two ties against Arsenal and the Scottish Cup final against Hibs a week on Sunday remaining before she leaves to join Melbourne Victory in Australia on another short-term loan.
“I’m really excited about the two games against Arsenal,” she said. “They are a great side, no denying it, and there are going to be spells where we don’t have the ball.
“We’ll go into the first leg with a gameplan and, if we execute it properly, I believe we’ll be able to bring Arsenal back to Petershill Park next Wednesday and still be in the tie.”
Fishlock was outstanding in the 3-1 second leg victory over Standard Liege in the previous round and all her experience will be required if Arsenal, who are coached by Scot Shelley Kerr, are to be contained in the home leg.
The match is being played at Barnet’s new Hive Stadium, because Boreham Wood, who share Arsenal’s usual home ground, Meadow Park, are hosting an FA Cup tie against Carlisle United.
Arsenal need to win this season’s Champions League to qualify for the next one after failing to win the Women’s Super League for the first time since it was formed three years ago. Liverpool were champions and Arsenal demoted to third after being found guilty of fielding an ineligible substitute in a 3-0 win over the eventual league winners.
City head coach Eddie Wolecki Black said: “Liverpool won title this year and nobody can argue with that, but Arsenal lost only once on the pitch in all three domestic competitions.
“That is remarkable in such a competitive environment. In my opinion Arsenal were the best team in England over the season as a whole, not just the league. This is one of the most difficult games I’ve ever faced in terms of analysis. Arsenal have so many good players spread throughout their team. Of the eleven who are likely to start, ten are internationalists.”
Wolecki, Black and Kerr often sound ideas off each other and he said: “I’ve got great respect for her as a coach and a person. We discuss a lot of things together so I know all about Arsenal and their players and she knows all about ours.
“We’ll need a lot going for us to win the tie on aggregate, but if we work really hard I think we have a chance of doing it.”