One day away from the Women’s North London Derby and Tottenham Hotspur Women got some bad news. Speaking in her press conference ahead of the match, which is set to be played in front of more than 50k fans at the Emirates Stadium, Skinner said starting forward Rosella Ayane will miss the next month after sustaining a foot fracture in Tottenham’s opening match.
“Unfortunately Ros has suffered an injury that’s going to keep her out for about four weeks so she’s not going to be available for the weekend. Other than that we’re still nursing a few issues if you like, coming out of the international break in terms of modifications. Not necessarily full lack of availability but certainly not 90 minutes fit for some players. So we’re managing a few bits like that, really.
“[Ros] suffered a small fracture in her foot from the tackle during the game, so that’s what’s put her out.”
Ayane suffered the injury in the first half of Spurs’ 2-1 win over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. She received treatment on the sideline and initially tried to rejoin the match, but it was quickly apparent that she was not able to continue. She was replaced by new signing (and fellow beanpole) Ellie Brazil in her Spurs debut.
This is a pretty significant blow for Tottenham. While we’ve had our frustrations with Ros coming out of last season, she’s an experienced international footballer who gets forward well and takes plenty of shots, something that Spurs need. Tottenham are also still dealing with a number of other injuries, including to highly-rated new striker Nikola Karczewska, who suffered an injury while on international duty with Poland and has yet to make her debut, as well as midfielders Ria Percival and Kit Graham.
However, it does provide opportunities. We got a good look at Brazil last Sunday, and a short look at Celin Bizet, both of whom could benefit from Ayane’s absence.
Skinner made it sound as though some of the other injured players may be available for some match action against Arsenal, but would be unlikely to start. She did not specify which players fit into this category (but I would guess Karczewska is one of them).
“At this stage we’re still trying to get players back as well, that’ll take another few weeks. The longer term ones that I’ve spoken about previously will be towards the end of October, so to have another player come out at this point for at least another four weeks is obviously a blow to the squad. But it gives opportunities, it makes the squad have to work harder and ultimately we want to make sure that over the course of the season the squad does its job and everyone’s equally important throughout the course of that. It’s an opportunity for someone else to stand up and be counted, and let’s see what that looks like.”
This makes Tottenham’s job — defeat their North London rivals, a team they’ve never beaten in the club’s history, in front of a WSL record attendance at The Emirates — to be an even bigger challenge. Skinner seemed to understand the magnitude of the job, but said that Spurs were ready to give it their all despite a lot working against them.
“We want to play competitively in every game. We want to make sure we work incredibly hard and that the effort levels are very high and everyone’s got one expectation of that. And then when you add the Derby to that… naturally, the competition for north London rights is always there. We’ve tried to bridge the gap based on where we’ve been and where Arsenal have been in the WSL.
“We’re going to try and make life as difficult for them as we possibly can. I think we’ll be seen as the underdogs, and that’s absolutely fine by us. We’ve got no pressure on us. We’ve got nothing to lose. We’ve got to make sure we do our jobs really well and keep bridging that gap and making life tough for them.”
The Women’s North London Derby kicks off tomorrow, 1:30 p.m. BST / 8:30 a.m. ET.