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Every word of Rehanne’s pre-Aston Villa press conference

Fri 13 January 2023, 14:30|Tottenham Hotspur

Ahead of Saturday's game against Aston Villa, catch up on every word of Rehanne Skinner's pre-match press conference, which took place on Friday afternoon at Hotspur Way.

On the winter break

“We were ready for the break. A lot of players have played a lot of football with all the tournaments in the summer. The break’s been really good for us. The players have come back refreshed and ready to go. We’re still working in the transfer window and we’ve had a new addition in that time. It’s a good start and we’re looking forward now to the second half of the season. The players needed the break. A lot of them hadn’t had the opportunity to go home. It’s longer than we’ve had before, but we try to make sure that we’re programming players in that time. They have a proper break but then they also get back to coming back into us. It’s similar to a pre-season really, you migrate them and periodise them back in. The last two weeks of training have been fantastic - really good quality - so hopefully that puts us in a good place going into tomorrow’s game.”

On the signing of Bethany England

“Beth’s someone that we identified quite a while ago and we’ve been working hard to try to make that happen. For us it’s about the right fit and Beth is definitely that for Tottenham in terms of her values and ours. She’s a top player in terms of her minutes on the pitch and goals scored from the time that she’s been on the pitch. It’s incredibly high and she’s got a lot of experience. She’s shown that she can score in this league so for us it’s a massive asset and an area that we’ve always wanted to strengthen since I’ve been here. It’s building blocks that we’re putting in place and it’s the right time. We’ve got the right person for the job. She needs to get match minutes and some time under her belt. That’s definitely something we want to try to work with her on. In terms of the quality and what she’s going to bring to the side, they’re undoubtedly going to benefit what we’re trying to achieve. It’s up to us and her to work together so that we can keep evolving that so she’s in the right place at the right time and we make the most of her performances when we can.”

On the transfer fee for Bethany

“Don’t believe everything you read. In terms of the figure being exaggerated, the number that was the previous historic record isn’t accurate either, but you pay for what you get. There was a transfer fee that needed to be paid and, as a Club, we’re trying to evolve the team and it’s important that you pay those fees when you need to to get the right people in the door. As a footballer and a person, she’s going to add huge value to our team.”

On Aston Villa

“They’ve had some good results and it’s always going to be a test. Whenever we’ve gone there, it’s been a challenge to play against them. We just need to focus on what we need to do in the second half of the season and that’s the most important thing. Whoever you play poses you different challenges and we’ve not played them yet this season, so this is an opportunity for us to try to start the new year in a positive place. The two Clubs are trying to evolve and are at a similar pace. As a collective, the team is going to be difficult to beat. They’ve scored a lot of goals and conceded goals as well, which is the same on our part. It’s going to be a good test going into it for the first one of the second half of the season. It’s something that we’re really looking forward to. We want to go and start the way that we want to carry on.”

On Saturday’s game

“Every game is important. We’re going through a process and things didn’t work quite how we wanted, but we played a friendly last weekend that went really well, so I’m pleased in terms of how that’s evolved. We won a game before Christmas as well, so we just want to start building a bit of momentum in the second half of the season.”

On turning results around

“We let ourselves down in parts of games in the first half of the season. When we got it right from the start, we did really well, and then we can’t have that kind of approach if something doesn’t quite go our way. The biggest thing is we’ve got to be more resilient when the game starts and make sure we make ourselves as hard to beat as possible. That keeps you in games for longer and we’ve certainly got the quality to show some of our possession football. It was outstanding and we were brilliant at times but we never reaped the rewards from that when we should have. That’s certainly something we want to focus on improving.”

On the progress of the team

“I’ve said on a number of occasions that you don’t get to the top of the league over night. With our aspirations as a Club we know where we want to get to, we’re also quite realistic in that it’s taken a lot of clubs time to get to that point. We did really well last year and are proud of that. We evolved the team further and have added quality to the team. It’s not quite gelled in the way that we wanted it to just yet but that takes time and relationship building. We’ve got to put the time and effort into that to get that right. The team knows that and are all very aware of the work they need to put into that as well as the staff, as much as the players. With time, you do get to good quality and you do get to consistent performances. That’s part of the process unfortunately. It’s football isn’t it? You have good days, bad days, good spells when you get a bit of momentum and ride your luck sometimes in those moments, and unfortunately we’ve had some situations where we’ve not made our own luck in the first half of the season as well as what we did at time last year. Last year, towards the end of the season we tailed away a little bit and that was something we wanted to work on. It’s flipped on it’s head a little bit this year but that shows that we’re not there yet and that’s alright. We’re just trying to move in the right direction.”

On team news for Saturday

“We’ve got a couple of challenges going into this weekend. There are a few players that aren’t available but hopefully we’ll be getting them back after  this weekend, so they’re not a million miles off, but ultimately the squad that’s there is fit and ready to go and we want to make sure that we make the most of the game with those players. We’re still trying to keep improving the quality and depth at the same time and that’s a fine line. We’re not just adding players for the sake of it, we want to get that right, so sometimes you have to be a bit patient with a return from injury for some players. We’ll get there and we’re in a better place now with them so hopefully they’re not too far off.”

On the right-back position

“Esther Morgan was only on loan until the end of December. It was a temporary loan move in order to support her development and return to play back from a long-term injury. We wanted to ensure that she was in the best possible place and we weren’t the right fit for that at that point, we needed her to be on the grass. She’s a young player with a lot of talent and certainly someone that, as part of our Tottenham youth, we’re investing in. In this next stage of the season, we’ll be looking at what’s the best step for her development to get back on track. She’s been out since February which is a long time for a young player. In terms of the right-back position, I’m comfortable with what Amy Turner’s been doing. She’s adjusted and has played it before. She’s played well there. Ashleigh Neville is unavailable this weekend, who has played as a wide player and a full-back. With Amy, Asmita Ale, Kerys Harrop and Ash, we’ve got several full-backs available to us. Ultimately, all of them have done a good job at different times, so we’ll pick the right players for the right team based on what we think is right that weekend.”

On the progress of Kit Graham and Ria Percival

“Kit’s progressing really well. She’s back in the biggest chunks of training, some bits not quite, but she’s back training with the group now for the most part, so that’s a fantastic place to be in. We’re getting to the end stages of her being closer to the pitch now, which is great. In terms of Ria, she’s progressing really well as well, probably quicker than what we expected actually. The pair of them have worked incredibly hard and the medical and performance staff have done a great job in getting them back to a good place. Over the course of the next few months, we’ll see what that looks like. There’s no pressure on them to be back right now. We know it’s going to take time, but ultimately if we can get them both back into the team this season, I’d be delighted.”

On Jordan Nobbs and Lucy Staniforth moving to Villa

“Players have got to do what’s right for them to get game time. Both players are looking at a World Cup in the summer, so regardless it’s about getting on the pitch. If that’s risking your selection for a World Cup, I think that’s what essentially makes players’ decisions for them. Ultimately, every club is trying to strengthen, whether that’s English players or elsewhere. Everybody wants to bring in top quality players and top quality players want to play, so that’s probably the crux of why those moves are happening.”