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MANCHESTER CITY boss Nick Cushing has stressed he does not view the Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid as a revenge mission.
City host the first leg against Atletico, who knocked them out of the competition in the round of 32 last season 3-1 on aggregate, tomorrow night.
Asked if he saw it as a revenge game, Cushing said: “No. I don’t think you think clearly when you start to think like that.
“I think for us it is a football game. We had an incredibly difficult game against Birmingham [a 3-0 home win in the Women’s Super League on Saturday], we had an incredibly difficult game against Atletico Madrid last season — every game is hard. It is so competitive now, the women’s game.
“We just enjoy going up against the best teams and for sure, Atletico Madrid are a top team.”
The Spanish champions, who have started their league campaign with four wins and a 6-1 loss to Barcelona, signed former City forward Toni Duggan over the summer after she left Barca.
Regarding the 28-year-old England international — with City from 2013 to 2017 — Cushing said: “If you look at Toni’s history here, she scored some incredibly big goals, played well and won trophies.
“She was a fans’ favourite and we hope she gets a good welcome, but we want to make sure we put the performance in that wins the game.”
City, who have made a 100 per cent start to 2019-20, have won the WSL, in 2016, the Women’s FA Cup and the Continental League Cup twice each under Cushing since 2014.
They have also twice reached the Champions League semi-finals, in 2017 and 2018.
Cushing said: “Being able to consistently push hard domestically is always our main objective, but to be competitive and go into the final stages of the Champions League just shows where you’re at on the European stage. It’s really important for us.
“I’ve never felt there is a particular trophy I wanted to win more than the others. I want to win them all, but I’m also realistic that it’s incredibly difficult to do that, and to win the Champions League.
“I have a huge desire to win it but we are also incredibly focused on the cup competitions and the league here.”
Cushing said a late decision will be made on whether Pauline Bremer, who missed the Birmingham game after picking up a knock, is involved tomorrow.
Demi Stokes is poised to make her return to the matchday squad and for Georgia Stanway, that is set to happen on Sunday when City face Manchester United away in the Continental Cup.
Regarding Ellen White, who is still to make her City debut after undergoing knee surgery, Cushing said: “It is just a bit too soon for her. We don’t want to take gambles, so we’ll continue to push Ellen on her rehab.”
Cushing was also asked about the racist abuse England’s men’s side endured in Bulgaria on Monday and what he would want his team to do in such circumstances.
“I think for us as the coaches, and the club, it is about looking after the welfare of our players, and we’d support our players in whatever they felt was the appropriate action in the moment,” he said.
“Our job is to make sure in the moment the players’ welfare is looked after and they are OK.
“I think it’s Uefa’s job to put the relevant sanctions in. Of course, there is no place for it in the game, and we hope the appropriate sanctions are put in place.
“I don’t think anybody feels good watching it. I felt proud of our national team for the way that they dealt with it. I think as England fans we want the most aggressive punishment there can be because we want it eradicated from the game.”
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