Everton welcome Champions League-chasing Arsenal to Walton Hall Park for a mouthwatering Women's Super League encounter on Sunday (1pm BST).
Willie Kirk's side are bolted in fifth position with two games remaining and have the opportunity to put down an early marker ahead of a bid to gatecrash the top four next season.
The key points from manager Kirk's Friday press conference are outlined below…
Kirk on midfielder Izzy Christiansen's inclusion on the six-strong Barclays Women's Super League Player-of-the-season shortlist...
It is fantastic for her to be recognised, it shows her consistency and is a compliment to her teammates for giving her the platform to shine.
It is big recognition for the Club after she joined from Lyon.
People may have wondered, why come back to the UK – but, more specifically, why come back to Everton?
It is proof we are recognised among the top clubs in the country and have some of the top players in the country.
WK: "It is fantastic for her to be recognised for her fantastic consistency throughout the year. It is a compliment to her teammates for giving her that platform to go and shine. It’s fantastic for everybody involved and I hope she wins it."#EFC 🔵 @IzzyChr17 pic.twitter.com/ynpaDKIBrN— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) April 30, 2021
On the challenge of bridging the gap to the WSL's top-four teams...
We need to continue to improve the squad, without a doubt.
We have analysed our competitors and ourselves and know we are still a little bit short in terms of quality and depth.
There is a little bit of a mental block – and there shouldn’t be – for the players, in terms of believing they are as good as these teams and should be taking points from them.
I keep referring back to that Chelsea game [FA Cup quarter-final victory] and how much belief we should have taken from that.
It’s not really carried into the season.
We understand how important it is to break that mental block before next season.
We did it against the best in the country [Chelsea], so we have to replicate that and try to take some strong belief from it.
On sourcing motivation for Sunday after Kirk admitted relegation-threatened West Ham United played with more drive in last Sunday's 0-0 draw...
The pitch we played on last week was one of the worst all season.
When you take away a lot of the possibilities of how you want to play and it comes down to grit and determination, West Ham had the edge... they had more on the line.
The pitch on Sunday will better and allow both teams to play how they want and not turn it into a battle.
That advantage Wet Ham had, as much as Arsenal have a lot to play for, won’t come into it.
I would be very disappointed if at the end of the game, I felt Arsenal wanted it more.
We know the importance of these next two games [Everton finish at Manchester United next week] in terms of our preparation for next season.
Today, from 3pm, English football and other sports, organisations and individuals stand together against online abuse.— ʀɪᴋᴋᴇ ʟæɴᴛᴠᴇʀ sᴇᴠᴇᴄᴋᴇ (@rsevecke) April 30, 2021
Join us and switch off too, as we collectively demand change 🙌🏼#Enough | #StopOnlineAbuse pic.twitter.com/sYHa3027EY
On captain Dan Turner's condition following surgery on a rare calf condition...
The operation has been successful, which is great.
We will only truly gauge how successful when she is on the pitch.
It is fantastic for Dan, a relief. It was the unknown annoying us.
It was hard to diagnose, the medical staff have done great.
Hopefully she will be fit for the first day of pre-season.
Dan is the only player missing for Sunday.
Lucy Graham [who missed West Ham] is back training and we expect to have her available.
Thank you so much for the messages everyone 💙 https://t.co/6K1OFiWveP— Danielle Turner (@danturner11) April 29, 2021
On Majority Shareholder Farhad Moshiri attending the West Ham game...
There have been a number of times in the past few years when it was highlighted how well we are supported by the Club and that was another example.
We feel very well supported by the Club and are very appreciative.
We hope to represent the badge properly and give them a little bit of success.
We are using the financial support well and, hopefully, doing the Club proud.
On this weekend's social media blackout...
It is a long time coming.
We have to make our stand against these social media platforms... and stop this online abuse and make sure it is properly punished.
Punishment that ensures offenders cannot reoffend.
It is the right thing to do and another sign the football family is together.
All our players are behind the campaign and will be doing their bit.