Man Utd’s plans for time off & training during WSL winter break

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Manchester United players will be granted some well-deserved time off for Christmas during the WSL winter break, but manager Marc Skinner insists he will be back at work after only two or three days of downtime with his family.

United have enjoyed an excellent first half of the 2022/23 season, sitting third in the WSL table and seven points better off than at the same stage of the previous campaign.

Having taken four points from huge away games against Arsenal and Manchester City either side of thrashing Aston Villa at Old Trafford, United’s final game of the calendar year is a dead rubber in the Continental Cup against Sheffield United on Sunday.

The team’s next game after that isn’t until 15 January when Liverpool visit Leigh Sports Village.

After this weekend, Skinner and the coaching staff are set to go out together for a meal before everyone temporarily parts ways for Christmas. The boss has vowed not to contact any of the players or support staff during the Christmas period to allow them space to relax and unwind.

Skinner himself plans to spend just a few days over Christmas with his partner and daughter, visiting his parents and in-laws. But with a crucial second half of the season on the horizon and the January transfer window also representing an opportunity to potentially strengthen, his break will be short.

“I’ll be working, my phone never goes off,” the boss explained.

“There’s a [transfer] window coming up, so I’ve got work to do. We’re going to look to see if we can manoeuvre the squad, maybe bring some players in if it’s the right option for the club.

“But we’ll always be looking in windows anyway to see if there is potential to improve the squad. Even with how well we’ve done now, we can’t stand still.”

Once the current United players have had their break and rest, they will work on individual programmes that would mirror a typical off-season training plan to maintain fitness, before returning for full training as a squad. The club is also weighing up potential options for a warm weather training camp and the squad could therefore go away together in the first half of January.

As for Sunday’s Conti Cup game against Sheffield United, Skinner has confirmed that Aoife Mannion has a chance of making the bench following her recovery from an ACL injury suffered in February. The centre-back, who is part of the senior leadership group, is not expected to play any part even if she does make the matchday squad but would still benefit from being back involved.

Her proper return to action on the pitch has always been earmarked for January.

Skinner has also hinted that a handful of youngsters from the academy ranks could also get their chance. Alyssa Aherne is ‘definitely’ in contention after recovering from injury last month, performing well since and impressing in first-team training this week in particular.

“[Aherne] trained with the group today and I thought she was excellent. She will definitely be one we’re looking at if we do give exposure in this moment,” Skinner said on Wednesday.

“Jess Simpson, if she hadn’t been injured, she would have been one as well. Obviously, Saf [Middleton-Patel] would be as well. Ella Kinzett and Keira Barry have been doing well. There are a lot of players doing well that are fitting that next mould we will be looking at into the New Year.”

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