Beard: Arsenal, team news and the thrill of a new season
West Ham United will have an almost fully fit squad to choose from for Sunday’s Barclays FA Women’s Super League opener with Arsenal, according to head coach Matt Beard.
The Hammers travel to Boreham Wood to take on the reigning WSL champions this weekend to kick-off the new campaign, with only forwards Esmee de Graaf and Leanne Kiernan unavailable for the Irons.
Switzerland international Alisha Lehmann could feature though, having recovered from an ankle injury sustained at the end of last season. The No7 came off the bench to play in the friendly against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
The squad is looking really good. We have an almost fully fit team to choose from.
“The squad is looking really good,” Beard told whufc.com. “We have an almost fully fit team to choose from. Alisha has come back from her injury picked up at the end of last season and has been involved. She came off the bench against Tottenham last Sunday and has trained all week.
“Esmee and Leanne are also both back in training with us, which is great to see. They are both working really hard but are obviously a few weeks behind in terms of fitness, having missed out on the start of pre-season, so I think we need to give them until the end of the month before bringing them into games.”
In Arsenal, West Ham will take on a side that lost just twice in the WSL last campaign, although the Irons will be buoyed after pushing the Gunners close in both encounters in the team’s first season as a professional outfit.
Having put five goals past the champions across two games in 2018/19, Beard believes his team head into Sunday’s match with more experience and composure.
Beard continued: “When we played Arsenal a few weeks ago in a pre-season friendly, we caused them a lot of problems. We gave a good account of ourselves and we’ve learned from it in terms of the way they play.
“Arsenal are a very good side and they are the FA WSL Champions for a reason, but I feel we’ve recruited well in the off-season and have a very good squad. I’m excited to see what we can bring to the table in the season.
“We’re testing ourselves against the best team in the country in our first game, but we know we can beat anyone. It will be a good challenge and a tough game, but everyone in our squad knows what we can achieve if we push ourselves and leave everything on the pitch.”