Liverpool Women: Vicky Jepson on recruitment, isolation & Zoom

By Emma SandersBBC Sport
Niamh Charles and Grace Fisk
Liverpool last played West Ham in the Women's Super League in February and currently sit bottom of the table

Liverpool Women manager Vicky Jepson says she has been using time away from football due to the coronavirus to look at recruitment for next season.

The Reds still have eight games left to play in the Women's Super League (WSL) season so Jepson says her staff have also been reviewing their opposition.

Team yoga sessions, staff meetings, baby photos and music quizzes have been key to keeping up team morale.

"It's the isolation life of living on Zoom!" Jepson told BBC Sport.

"The staff and the squad are having regular catch-ups. We have staff meetings most mornings. We have technical meetings where we go over footage of the opposition and are reviewing the last eight games we have got to play.

"I've been putting profiles together and looking at recruitment for next season - what players we are bringing into the club. That's quite time-consuming because you are contacting agents, catching up with the individual players that are out of contract that you may want to bring in and catching up with the club to make sure they are in the loop with our recruitment strategy."

The WSL season was suspended on 13 March, along with all other top-level football in the UK, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool's remaining WSL fixtures
Manchester City (h)Everton (a)
Reading (a)Brighton (h)
Chelsea (a)Tottenham (h)
Manchester United (h)Birmingham City (h)

But Jepson says the main thing is "making sure our players and the public are OK, fit and healthy" during this "crazy" time and has had to make sure she is communicating with all her staff regularly.

While technical issues have not been a problem, Jepson joked some players have been arriving late to team meetings and forward Kirsty Linnett is always singing on their Zoom chats.

"There's always a few people jumping on a bit late but they're the usual suspects. The players are good with it and they have a right laugh," she said.

"The problem is trying to hear yourself think when they all start talking on it. They rip into each other and then Kirsty Linnett starts singing and Leighanne Robe joins in, but it's a good way to keep the morale high.

"Rather than everything being staff-led, we have given ownership to Rachel Furness and Rinsola Babajide to come up with a music quiz on Zoom. All the girls and the staff will tune in this weekend so that will be entertaining!"

A number of WSL players have struggled to get the equipment they need to keep fit, and Jepson says Liverpool have had to "make do with what we have got, adapt and be creative".

The players have been given individual training programmes as well as exercise videos, and all have GPS apps to track their fitness.

"We have sent some of the girls equipment to help support them through the programmes," added Jepson.

"The physical performance coach has been doing a lot of body weight circuits on video. We have sent all the girls resistance bands and they have skipping ropes in the post on their way to them.

"Some of the girls have bikes and those that haven't, we are desperate for them. We have phoned around and managed to get hold of them. It's difficult because everyone in the country is on lockdown so we have had to adapt."