United Women 2022/23: The midfielders and forwards
With time now ticking down towards Manchester United Women's season opener this weekend, Marc Skinner will have somewhat of a tactical headache when choosing his first starting XI of the new campaign.
Having added seven new faces to the side, United will look to build on a fruitful campaign last time out, in which we saw Skinner's outfit find the net 45 times domestically.
With even more attacking threat added to our arsenal, in the form of Women's Euro 2022 winner Nikita Parris and former West Ham goal-getter Adriana Leon, the duo only bolster the attacking talent available to Skinner.
And now, with the 22/23 curtain raiser firmly in our sights, we took a look at all of the senior options available for the Reds this term, in both the midfield and forward areas...
Joining the Reds from Orlando Pride back in January of this year, Jade Moore's international pedigree and vast experience of the game is something United will benefit from this season. Having previously been with the boss at Birmingham City, the 31-year-old featured just three times last year following a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury. She will no doubt hope to build on that total after a strong pre-season with the side.
A fan favourite and returning a Women's EURO 2022 champion, its been quite the summer for the life-long United fan. Only aged 23, Toone is considered one of the senior members of our squad, having featured in every campaign since our formation back in 2018. Finding the net 8 times in 24 appearances for the side last term, Ella is known to be one of the most dangerous forwards in the league, and continues to grow as each games passes.
Norwegian international Vilde Boe-Risa's infectious play style and tenacity on the pitch makes her a solid member of United's squad. The former Sandviken midfielder joined the club last year and has gone from strength to strength under Skinner's watchful eye. Registering her first goal for the club against Brighton in our 2-0 victory last season, the 27-year-old will hope to kick on, following a positive start to life here in England.
Midfield maestro and United captain, Katie Zelem, has also been with the side since our first season back in 2017/18. Our no.10 decided to extend her stay here in Manchester this summer and it's clear to see how much of a role she has played in the teams progression through the years. An England international too, Zelem featured heavily throughout the 21/22 term and will hope to lead the team to further success during the upcoming campaign.
Another remaining member from our inaugural season, Leah Galton's explosive pace and trickery down the flank is no doubt something our supporters will hope to see much more of this year. Registering her best tally of eight goals last term, the 28-year-old is known to be a handful for any full-back in the WSL. Hoping to kick on after a strong summer showing, Leah will once again prove no doubt vital to our bidding successes.
Enforcer and defensive-minded protector Hayley Ladd returned from a nasty injury in the 20/21 campaign to turn out 15 times in total for United last season, and she will be bid to make this season her most successful yet. Another former Birmingham City player, the 28-year-old oozes class in the middle of the park and is often seen partnering Zelem at the base of our midfield. Finding the net three times during 21/22 too, Hayley also knows where the net and provides vital experience for those around her.
Ready for ReadingGallery
United Women train for the final time ahead of Saturday's WSL opener...
Having made her comeback from a lengthy injury lay-off back in April of this year, it was with superb pride that Lucy Staniforth decided to extend her stay with the club just a month ago. Now ready to kick on in midfield for Skinner's side, Staniforth will be hoping to feature regularly for United this year, having made just a handful of appearances last season. An England international too, Lucy provides key experience and is another one to watch.
Enjoying a superb rise through Everton's ranks during her teenage years, the praise couldn't be higher for new addition Grace Clinton. Already capped at both England Under-17 and Under-19 level, the future sure looks bright for the 19-year-old. Now, under the stewardship of Skinner, Grace will no doubt bid to make a name for herself in a red shirt, with competition for places a tough ask as we continue to improve our options across the board.
A Scotland international, 26-year-old Martha Thomas is a name the United fanbase will have quickly been accustomed too during the 21/22 campaign. Signing from West Ham in July of last year, Thomas's six goals in fifteen appearances in all competition bodes well as a springboard for the new season. Capable of playing either down the middle or from a more naturally wide position, her attacking know-how is something United will for sure rely on moving forward.
Another fan favourite amongst our unrelenting support, Alessia Russo was a key member of the Lionesses' EURO 2022 winning squad that included her terrific backheel in England's win over Sweden. Our top scorer with 11 in total last season, Russo was a constant threat throughout and also picked up our Players' Player of the Year Award. 'Lessi' will surely hope to enjoy yet another fruitful campaign in front of goal.
Former Arsenal forward Nikita Parris also endured a winning summer at international level, as another member of Sarina Weigman's European Championship winning squad. At 28, Parris boasts an impressive footballing CV having also played for both Lyon and Manchester City during her career. A WSL winner, as well as a proven goalscorer in the Women's game, Nikita will want to hit the ground running.
Skinner previews Saturday's season kick-off
"There's been a real positive energy this week," says United Women's head coach Marc Skinner ahead of our WSL opener...
Joining from West Ham United back in July, Canadian international Adriana Leon is another striking option for Skinner to explore this campaign. Leon was the Reds’ first signing of the 2022 summer transfer window and boasts an impressive pedigree over in the US and here in the WSL. In three-and-a-half seasons with the Hammers, the 29-year-old made 59 appearances and scored 13 goals.
Another proven goalscorer to add to the squad, Lucia Garcia signed for United from Atletico Bilbao back in July. At 24, Garcia still has a lot to give in the game and already boasts an impressive 37 caps for her native Spain. Making her senior debut aged just 15, Lucia will again prove to be a welcome addition, as we chase down further progression in both the WSL and cup competitions.
An experienced name within the Women's game, Rachel Williams unprecedented knowledge will hopefully help the Reds progress this season. With past experience with Tottenham, Birmingham City and Chelsea too, Williams became our fifth summer signing as she penned a one-year-deal here in Manchester. Scoring over 100 career goals, Rachel's attacking know-how will aid our already existing attacking options.