Manchester City’s manager, Gareth Taylor, has described as “not ideal” the news that the club will be unable to register Alanna Kennedy and Ruby Mace for the carried-over FA Cup and said the club might have changed their recruitment strategy had they known about the rule.
City will be without the defensive duo for the quarter-final at home against Leicester on Wednesday. Teams competing in the quarter-finals of last season’s competition have been told they can register up to three new players who played in the previous rounds provided they did not play for another team involved in the last eight. They can also register any players who have played no part in the competition.
This rules out Mace and Kennedy, with the former having played in the competition on loan at Birmingham from Arsenal and the latter with Tottenham.
The FA women’s football board has deemed the changes appropriate to protect the integrity of the competition. Last season, when the delayed 2019-20 FA Cup was completed from the quarter-final stage, teams were allowed to register six new players, without any caveats.
Taylor, who has a number of defenders on a hefty injury list, said the short notice was “a frustration”. The left-back Demi Stokes and forward Lauren Hemp picked up knocks in Sunday’s 5-0 defeat at Arsenal in the Women’s Super League to further stretch his squad, which is without the defenders Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and Esme Morgan and the goalkeepers Ellie Roebuck and Karen Bardsley. The defensive midfielder Keira Walsh may be fit enough to play a small part.
“It gives us another issue, obviously, with Alanna and Ruby not being eligible,” Taylor said. “It’s not ideal. We didn’t get the information until really, really recently, which causes us kind of even more frustration. I’m under the understanding that Leicester has a similar problem. Getting that information to us a little bit quicker would help. It’s obviously going to impact us probably more than anyone else due to the injury crisis we have at the moment. We make plans. We’ll give it our best.”
Had City known sooner, they could have adjusted. “We had that discussion around whether we would have changed our recruitment strategy in the summer had we known this information at that point, and it has come super late,” said Taylor. “Saying that, we never anticipated this amount of injuries; it’s pretty unprecedented what we’re going through so it’s a real difficult one to answer.
“When you carry a competition over into the second season I think it is really difficult to enforce those types of restrictions on players. At the end of the day we lose the opportunity to see a Ruby Mace showcase her talents in this type of game and that’s probably the most frustrating thing.”