Christmas fixtures would be 'exciting' for Women's Super League

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Manchester City boss Nick Cushing said festive fixtures would be exciting for the Women’s Super League, after seeing his side win[1] their first scheduled league game in nearly a month.

The 10-team strong WSL 1, which has 18 rounds of fixtures, recently switched from a summer to a winter calendar.

Six Premier League matchdays were held since the WSL’s most recent games.

“I would like [festive] games, but I get the fact there aren’t many rounds of games,” Cushing told BBC Sport.

“I think matches through Christmas would be really exciting for us.

“This year, the main reason we didn’t train through Christmas was because we had so many players involved in Euro 2017. But next Christmas might be different for us.

“We needed to give our squad a break and today showed it has helped them massively. The intensity of that game for us was excellent.”

City won 5-2 in a lively game at Reading, shortly after second-placed Chelsea’s entertaining 3-2 win over Arsenal earlier on Sunday.

Wales’ Natasha Harding, who recently signed for Reading from Liverpool, felt the benefits of the break were highlighted in an end-to-end match at Adams Park.

“It’s obviously been a conversation topic for the men’s game as well. Thankfully we had a few days off,” Harding said.

“It allows people to recharge and mentally just refresh and come back in with a clean slate. I think it showed today that everyone was raring to go. Everyone enjoys a bit of a break every now and then.”

The Football Association – which runs the WSL – included a winter break because of the benefits for players’ rest and recovery time, while being in a position – due to the overall number of fixtures – to include the break without it generating fixture congestion at other times of the season.

There were no scheduled games for any WSL sides between 17 December’s Continental Tyres Cup fixtures and 6 January’s games at Bristol City, Liverpool and Sunderland.

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Many sides went nearly two months without a league fixture because of 10 December’s numerous postponements due to severe wintery weather.

In contrast, the busy schedule of the men’s top flight led to Man City boss Pep Guardiola to claim the festive fixture list “is going to kill” the players.

The Spaniard felt the busy schedule was a “disaster”, amid concern over injuries to Gabriel Jesus and Kevin de Bruyne.

Leicester City had only 213 hours between the start and finish of their four fixtures over the festive period.

Meanwhile, speaking before Christmas, Bristol City Women head coach Willie Kirk – whose side beat Everton on Saturday – told BBC Sport he felt the FA could actually consider an even longer winter break.

But Kirk added that the “jury is still out” as to whether or not a winter calendar is best for the women’s game in England.

The WSL – which began in 2011 – was played over the summer months until 2016, before a one-off transitional Spring Series in 2017 ahead of September’s start to the new winter campaign.

You can now add WSL 1 notifications for line-ups, goals, kick-off, half-time and results in the BBC Sport app. Visit this page to find out how to sign-up.[5]

BBC Sport – Football