Everton 'Resolve' Key To Reading Success, Says Kirk

Willie Kirk believes Everton’s determination and resolve will be key in overcoming the “big challenge” Reading will pose in Saturday’s WSL clash at Walton Hall Park (4.30pm).

Kirk also revealed a muscle injury will keep star striker Valerie Gauvin out for around two months but backed the array of attacking talents in his squad to ensure the Blues’ goalscoring threat is not significantly blunted.

Everton head into the Saturday’s match on the back of a 4-0 defeat at reigning champions Chelsea – the Toffees’ first WSL loss of the season.

Everton are fourth in the table, two places ahead of Reading and just three points behind league leaders Manchester United.

Manager Kirk explained how the attitude of his players in the immediate aftermath of the Chelsea game strengthened his belief the Blues will soon hit the winning trail again.

“The result was a little bit of a shock to the system because I felt like we actually competed for the majority of the game,” Kirk explained.

“The players’ reaction after the match was really positive, with regards that the 4-0 scoreline was unacceptable.

“They have vowed for that not to happen again. That’s all you can ask for as a manager, that the players stand up and make comments like that.

“I don’t think the defeats against Chelsea and Man City [in the FA Cup final] have affected the mood in the group. If anything, it’s strengthened the determination and resolve that they’ve built up.

“It’s a group that will stick together.

“But we need to make sure we taste victory again as soon as possible.

“It’ll be a big challenge for us on Saturday.

“Over the past three or four years, Reading have been the team that was tipped to break into that top three.

“They will come to Walton Hall Park with a massive point to prove. They have got threats from all over the pitch, and they’ve got really good and different types of attackers.

“But our players have trained with a really good intensity this week and we’ll be ready for Saturday.”

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06:29

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France international Gauvin has hit six goals in nine Everton appearances since joining the Club from Montpellier in the summer.

Kirk admits her extended absence is a blow but says the depth of quality Blues’ ranks will ensure his side remain a potent force in the final third.

The Everton manager added skipper Lucy Graham will be fit for the Reading clash after missing last weekend’s game through injury, while centre-back Rikke Sevecke is also available after recovering from a knock sustained against Chelsea.

“I don’t think we’ll see Valerie Gauvin before Christmas, which is a shame,” Kirk said. "She obviously started the season really, really well.

“She’s picked up a muscle injury, which we need to look after.

“Apart from Valerie, we are at full strength and we’ve got really good options.

“We’ve had nine different goalscorers this season. That was a big focus for us this season, finding goals from different sources, and we’ve shown we can do that.”

As part of Women’s Football Weekend, all six WSL matches across Saturday and Sunday will be shown live on the FA Player, with kick-offs staggered to ensure no fixture clashes.

Everton’s meeting with Reading will also be streamed live on the BBC Sport website and the broadcaster’s red button service.

Last year’s Women’s Football Weekend saw Everton beat Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield in front of more than 23,500 fans and – while COVID-19 restrictions mean supporters are unable to attend fixtures this year – Kirk highlighted the importance of the increased exposure WSL games will receive.

“It’s fantastic,” Kirk said.

“We got great numbers through the gates last year and hopefully we get great numbers watching this season.

“Personally, I’m delighted the matches have been spread over the whole weekend, because I’ll be able to watch most of them.

“It’s great we’re being shown on the BBC. It shows the direction we’re travelling in, that the live broadcasters are interested in us.”

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06:50 Fri 23 Oct 2020

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