Preview: Reading v Blues

Blues could give a debut to new signing Georgia Brougham on Sunday.

Brougham, who will wear number 16, has joined on loan from Everton.

With Sarah Mayling making her comeback from injury at Arsenal, competition for places is beginning to hot up.

And the side has been given a further boost with the news that Brianna Visalli is now fully fit and available for selection after surgery.

Emma Kelly, who has received international clearance, is also in mix, but she has a slight hamstring niggle to shake off first.

So Blues should have more options and depth for the Barclays FA WSL trip to Reading (2pm KO) - as well as in the weeks to come.

Whilst she is keen to assist Blues backline, who remain without Kerys Harrop, Kelly believes that her understanding of the game can help add some clout to the attack. 

The flexible attacking midfielder or forward, most recently with IBV Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland, was snapped up last week and had a watching brief as Blues tackled leaders Arsenal.

“I want to try to bring something fresh to the team,” said Kelly.

“The girls put on a resilient performance in the second-half at Arsenal, we can take confidence from that and I am aiming to add some new things up front, maybe some things that we haven’t had yet.

“I would like to think my biggest attribute is my understanding of the game. I like to have a good understanding of my team-mates and how to play alongside them, when to retain possession and when to try things.

“I want to add some more flexibility to the front three, I have said to Marta (Tejedor, manager) that I’m happy to play in a vast range of positions, show that versatility to play all over and hopefully bring assists and goals.”

Kelly had a taste of life in the WSL with Sunderland Ladies but is well aware that standards have risen.

And while Blues have had a tough opening half of the season, the newcomer has seen enough to believe the team can push on heading deeper into 2020.

“The tempo and quality is a lot higher and on a personal front that’s what I want,” she added.

“The girls here are of a high quality and I think training here and playing against the girls who are in the league now will only bring me on as a player.

“We are in a bit of a vulnerable position at the minute but we still have 13 league games to go and the girls are only getting stronger and better.

“There is more knowledge going through in every training session and we are learning from every game.

“The massive difference to the performance and confidence of the girls the talk had at half-time (at Arsenal) showed how easily the team can adapt and progress.

“Hopefully we will start to see more positive results in the future.”

Blues have had to incorporate their talented Academy youngsters for a number of weeks and Laura Brown became the latest debutant, as a substitute against the Gunners.

WSL Opta Stats show that Blues have given teenagers 1,286 minutes in the league this season - the most of any side in the competition. In contrast, Reading are one of two sides yet to feature a teenager in the league, along with Arsenal.

*We will have a full feature with Emma Kelly in the next edition of Blues News – the official match day programme of Birmingham City Women – when we tackle Manchester City in the Barclays FA WSL at the Stadium next Sunday, January 19 (12pm KO). Tickets are available here.