Everton Women Boss Brian Sorensen refused to complain about the heavy international schedule and the toll it has taken on his squad, instead insisting that it is part of the growth of the game.
The Blues’ squad has been hit with a number of injuries during the season, and that has been added to with the news that Katrine Veje and Justine Vanhaevermaet will be unavailable for this week’s WSL encounter away at West Ham united.
Veje, who rolled her ankle during Denmark’s defeat to Germany, is expected to be out till after Christmas, while midfielder Vanhaevermaet will miss the trip to London with a foot injury while on duty with Belgium.
Lucy Hope and Elise Stenevik also remain sidelined, while Nathalie Bjorn and Karen Holmgaard - both of whom played a half each in the win against Aston Villa - are still be managed back to fitness and may well do similar shifts against Rehanne Skinner’s side.
Martina Piemonte serves her second game of a three-match ban, but fellow Italian Aurora Galli is available to face the Hammers.
The international breaks in between the WSL season has always been a topic for debate, and this year has also seen the inaugural Women's’ Nations League, meaning players are competing in even more competitive matches for their countries.
But Sorensen refused to complain about the situation and is solely focused on managing it, as he explains:
“There has always been three international breaks after the summer for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I look at players I have coached from Scandinavia and, now you have the Nations League, they are really tough games similar to what we play here.
“Again, it’s a growth of the sport but, as players, they need to grow with it in terms of the physicality and the mental part you put into it. It’s a big step for the sport but it is what it is.
“It’s the first time that there has been a Nations League involving most of the players that we have. Its hard and it takes it toll, much like the league we play in.
“I’m not here to complain about it, I’m here to manage it the best way possible by making sure the team is ready and in a good condition to get the win at the weekend.
West Ham sit three places lower and four points worse off than their visitors this Sunday and Skinner’s side will be looking to end a run of four consecutive league defeats which sees them only above the WSL’s bottom club Bristol City on goal difference.
Summer signing Riko Ueki leads her team’s scoring charts with three, although fellow forward Emma Harries will also be one for the Blues to keep their eyes on.
Without a league win since October, the Hammers will be desperate to give their fans an early Christmas present against their Merseyside rivals.
A Lisa Evans header on the stroke of half-time settled matters in favour of the Hammers when the two sides met on the opening day of last season. Everton created few chances that day but were dominant in possession.
An even record exists between the two sides in the league, with both sides on three victories apiece with two games ending even.
It has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Toffees, who last recorded a victory at West Ham through Hannah Cain in March 2019.
And with these two sides currently the WSL’s lowest scorers, a tight game could again be on the cards with chances needing to be taken when they come along.