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Reading FC Women and Millwall Lionesses have opened up a gap on their rivals at the top of the Southern Division and - weather permitting - this Sunday is going to be a vital one as the top two meet each other.
Reading winger Rebecca Jane is fully aware of the significance of this game as her team travel to play second placed Millwall, who are level on points and have a game in hand. "This game is massive, it's a must win game for us and the team are really up for it," she told Women's Soccer Scene.
"The weather hasn't been great lately but we have managed to get some good training sessions in and work on things that will hopefully win us the game."
After having been relegated from the National Division last season, Rebecca admits that her team is setting out to put the record straight this time around. "I feel the team are very determined to win the league," she said. "It was gutting to have been relegated last year and we all know that the top division is where we deserve to be, so we'll work hard to get there."
Reading's squad this season is a very young one which contains a number of players brought up through their ranks and the former England Under-17 international, who holds the rare distinction of having scored in a World Cup semi final, has been impressed with their progress. "The young players within the squad have adapted really well," she enthused. "It can be quite a physical league but they have dealt very well with it.
"I think the season is going well so far, having only lost two games and won the rest, we are top of the league, which is where we set out to be."
However the Royals were dealt a blow recently when leading scorer Francesca Kirby was ruled out of action for several weeks with a broken ankle sustained during their F.A.Women's Cup win against Lewes. "It's obviously a massive blow to the team," admits Rebecca. "She is the league's top goalscorer and the team will miss her on the pitch, however we have a strong set of forwards who will now have to step up, which I am sure will happen."
In their first game without Fran, Reading picked up a vital 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur which saw them keep the leadership. "It was an important win for us," Rebecca insists. "There were a few changes within the team and i feel the win gave us a big confidence boost.
"I think it took us a while to get going and to play as a team again, but the second half showed that we have great ability and we all worked very hard to ensure we won the game."
Whilst the likes of Rebecca, Francesca Kirby and Alice Palmer have taken headlines this season for the goals they have scored, Reading's success so far has been a real team effort and Rebecca is quick to acknowledge this, whilst singling out another player for special praise. "There are a number of players within the squad that have done brilliantly this season, however our centre back Rosie Lane has improved massively and in my opinion has been our strongest player this season."
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