EXCLUSIVE: Glasgow City head coach Eileen Gleeson discusses SWPL resumption and stamping her authority on squad
City returned to action with a 9-0 demolition of Queen’s Park in the Scottish Cup third round last weekend
and live on Freeview channel 276
Since leaving her role as assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland Women’s national team in November, Gleeson has secured four wins from her first five matches in charge.
Her sole defeat - a 1-0 loss to Celtic in the SWPL Cup Final at Firhill - will have left a sour taste but her players remain firmly on course to secure a 15 successive domestic title.
Ahead of the Scottish Women’s Premier League resumption on Sunday, Gleeson is eager to make Petershill a fortress moving forward and is hoping her squad can kick-start a winning run against Hamilton Accies.
City will aim to capitalise on any slip-up from leaders Rangers, who hold a two-point lead at the top of the table, over the coming months.
Speaking exclusively to GlasgowWorld, Gleeson said: “We’ve played Hamilton twice already this season and they’ve made it very difficult for us, so we’re not expecting an easy game or for them to roll over.
“They’re a very dogged, well-organised team so we’ll need to be on top of our own game to beat Hamilton. That is the message we’re driving home to the players.
“It’s very important to maximum the output of your home games. We train a lot at Petershill now, so it’s becoming very familiar for the girls.”
City returned to action last weekend as they thrashed SWPL 2 side Queen’s Park 9-0 in the Scottish Cup third round.
The UEFA Pro Licence holder, who won six trophies in eight years during her time at Peamount United, has had very little time to work with the players on the training pitch since her arrival.
However, a three-week winter break allowed Gleeson the opportunity to assess her squad closely and identify areas that need strengthening.
She admitted: “It was nice for the girls to have an extended break. It gave them a chance to come back feeling fresh and it was really good for me to have a lot of consecutive training sessions with them.
“We’ve been building the girls back up, building the intensity levels back up and working on some of the concepts we want to implement into our play.
“We were very happy with the result against Queen’s Park and It was a good lead into our next league game.
“It was a composed, patient performance and obviously keeping a clean sheet and scoring a few goals as well was great.
“We had Cailin Michie starting for the first time in a while and then we got opportunities to bring some of the younger players on like Niamh (Noble) and Mya (Bates).
“It was a great chance for those girls to build minutes for the competitive games coming up and also to give the players that haven’t been starting regularly of late minutes as well.”
Three of City’s most exciting youngsters Noble, Bates and goalkeeper Ava Eason have been involved in a training camp with the Scotland Under-17s this week and Gleeson believes that experience will stand them in good stead for the remainder of the campaign.
She stated: “Of course. Niamh and Mya are two very good young players coming through and we’ve also got a young goalkeeper involved with the squad, so it was a great opportunity for them.
“I think they’ve got very good potential so they’ve earned their place in the national team squad.
“I’d except both will be available for Sunday’s match, but we’ll just see how that pans out over the next day or two.”
Despite still having plenty to play for this term, Gleeson has already began to lay the foundations for next season with four players recently signing contract extensions.
Defender Jenna Clark, winger Megan Foley, midfielder Mairead Fulton and striker Ode Fulutudilu all committed their futures to the club last month.
Gleeson added: “There is a very good squad here already and we’re obviously looking to develop the players as best we can.
“It’s great that a few of them have signed extensions, we know that helps settle the players and bring continuity to the club, so we can now focus on their development and continuing to be successful on the pitch.”
Northern Ireland international Kerry Beattie became Gleeson’s first signing since taking the reins, a player she knows well during her time in Irish football.
The 19-year-old striker, who ended last season’ Danske Bank Women’s Premiership as top scorer with 23 goals, penned a five-year-contract after leaving Glentoran.
Gleeson said: “You’re always looking to strengthen your goal scoring potential and I identified Kerry as a young player with high-potential, so it’s exciting for us to bring in a player like that.
“She did very well at Glentoran and was brought into the senior Northern Ireland squad, so she really fits the profile of a Glasgow City player and the values we like to promote.
“She’s been training well and we’re steadily building her fitness up. She was on an off-season so this will feel like a pre-season for her at the moment.
“We’ll keep working away and bring her up to the intensity levels here and you’ll hopefully be seeing her on the pitch very soon.
“Kerry is a very consistent player with great movement. She understands the game well, is very tidy on the ball and is efficient with her finishing.”
Asked whether she had further signing targets lined up in January, Gleeson revealed: “For sure, we always have players in mind, but we won’t reveal them at the moment.
“You’re always actively looking to improve your squad and add depth to build increased competition, so we’ll have to wait and see.”