Manchester United boss Casey Stoney praised Lauren James after her contribution to the team’s first ever FA Women’s Super League win, saying that the forward was inspired by her brother, Chelsea defender Reece James.
Reece made his senior debut for the Blues in midweek, and marked it with a goal in a 7-1 demolition of Grimsby Town .
It was the 19-year-old’s first game since returning from an ankle ligament injury, and his younger sister followed suit against Liverpool, marking her full WSL debut with a goal the day before her 18th birthday .
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“[Lauren James can be] as good as she wants to be – with the right work ethic and mentality,” Stoney said after the 2-0 win.
“We scored a goal because the 10 players behind her do their job. They give her the ball and work back.
“She was good today and I think that was one of the hardest working performances I’ve seen from her.
“She knows what she is capable of and she has had great inspiration from her brother during the week.
“She is 18 tomorrow so we need to be patient with her, not put too much patience with her.
“Yes, she’s very composed, we know what she can do with the ball but for me, talent wise, she is one of the best in her age group.
“But there’s areas of her game we need to work on with her and she’s more than aware of and is very hungry to do that.”
James started the game after striker Jane Ross suffered with illness during the week, and she brought a different dimension to Manchester United’s team as they searched for their first points of the season.
“What Lauren gives you is she draws two defenders, every time,” Stoney continued.
“Where she draws two defenders it gives our wingers a bit more time and space, it gives our midfielders a bit more time and space.
“Because she’s got the ability to roll out of trouble and to take people on, she’ll beat one and draw another one so then it’s about how you use the space.
“She’s had a good day but second half everyone had a good day.”
Despite the victory, Stoney and her players admitted they were not at the races in the first half, going in at the break goalless, with James hitting the bar in their best chance of the 45 minutes.
“There was a lack of intent in the first half. We spoke about that,” Stoney said.
“It’s about making sure we keep our standards really high. If we can match what we had against Man City, we should be better against Liverpool.
“That’s no disrespect to Liverpool it’s just about keeping our standards high.
“The players knew at half-time. They didn’t need me to tell them that.
“I always leave the players for three, four or five minutes – depending on the state of the game.
“They need to have their voice and be able to solve problems.
“When they are out on the pitch I can’t solve everything for them. They need to be able to have that time. They always do.
“They weren’t saying anything different to what I was going to say anyway!”
“They deserved it. They worked so hard and in the first two games they were unlucky not to come away with something,” she added.
“I had a feeling that it could be one of those days. We hit the bar a couple of times and had lots of chances. We just needed one to go in.
“When it did, we all relaxed a little bit, moved the ball really well – it’s what the players deserve.
“They always execute what we ask them to do. There’s relief but we can build on this now.”