Marc Skinner

Marc Skinner insisted he is not unduly worried about Alessia Russo’s contract running down as his main focus is on leading Manchester United to domestic silverware this season.

United sit atop the Women’s Super League and are into the FA Cup semi-finals, but looming in the background is the uncertainty of several players’ futures at the club beyond the end of the campaign.

The deals of both England striker Russo, who attracted a world record bid from Arsenal reported to be around £500,000 in January which United rejected, and Spain full-back Ona Batlle expire this summer.

While Skinner revealed talks are continuing in the background with the important duo, the United boss said his job and that of all his players is to focus on a crucial next few matches.

“I wouldn’t say [the contract situations of Russo and Batlle] goes to the level of concern because as a collective we’re in a really important moment of the season which these players will play a massive part in,” said Skinner.

“There’s a lot of love from those players towards the club and obviously from the club towards those players. We’re hopeful and working hard behind the scenes.

Alessia Russo’s contract at Man Utd runs out this summer

“What I’ve stayed very clear on – and why they’re still performing like they are – is it’s about the team. My job is to put myself aside and work for this team, the players’ job is to put themselves aside and work for the team.

“That looks like trying to progress to an FA Cup final. We’ve already gone one stage further than we ever have so now we have to put all our energy into doing that and then we’ve got really important games to not only finish potentially in the Champions League but try to challenge for the league.”

This iteration of United’s women’s side has only been in existence for the last five years and has neither finished in the top three of the league nor reached the final of a domestic cup competition.

Indeed, this Saturday’s clash against Brighton will be a first experience of an FA Cup semi-final.

United, though, will be overwhelming favourites to prevail given they have twice this season claimed 4-0 wins over Brighton, rock-bottom of the WSL, who named Melissa Phillips as head coach last week.

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United

“The reality is we’re not at the final,” said Skinner, whose most recent thrashing of Brighton was earlier this month in both teams’ last fixtures.

“We would love to get to a final and to win finals going forward but we’ve got a very difficult task ahead of us.

“The mentality from my group and my players has to be that we go and hunt any opponent that stands in the way of us and success.

“That’s the mentality I want us to have from now until the end of the year and I genuinely mean I want us to turn up our heat on every opponent knowing that the one we’ll face this weekend will be very, very difficult to play against. We better be ready for that.”


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