Manchester United and Reading begin their WSL campaigns on Saturday with a clash at Leigh Sports Village.

United will be vying to break into the WSL’s top three and secure Champions League football for the first time this season, having spent the last two years knocking on the door but falling just short.

They face a Reading side who finished eighth last term, with all seven of their league victories bizarrely coming in just an eight-game spell between October and February.

When is kick off? Saturday 17 September, 12:00 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Leigh Sports Village
TV channel/livestream? FA Player (UK & international)
Highlights? BBC Sport website, FA Player
Referee? Abigail Byrne

United will be without Rachel Williams, whose debut for the club will be delayed due to a knee injury picked up in training. The forward is expected to be out for the next three weeks. United could hand up to six new players their competitive debuts following the club’s summer transfer activity.

Aoife Mannion remains a long term absentee as she continues her recovery from an ACL injury, while Jackie Groenen will be a loss for United following her switch to PSG on Thursday.

Six new signings could be in contention to make their WSL debuts for Reading on Saturday – including Diane Caldwell, who joined the Royals in the summer window after her short-term contract with United expired in June.

New club captain Emma Mukandi (nee Mitchell) could make her first WSL appearance since the 2020/21 season, having returned to action after giving birth to her first child.

Man Utd (4-3-3): Earps; Le Tissier, Tounkara, Thorisdottir, Batlle; Zelem, Ladd, Toone; Garcia, Russo, Galton

Reading (4-4-2): Moloney; Cooper, Caldwell, Evans, Woodham; Eikeland, Vanhaevermaet, Troelsgaard, Rowe; Rose, Wellings

Manchester United won this fixture when Reading visited Leigh in last season’s WSL opener. It was relatively comfortable in the end in what was actually Marc Skinner’s first competitive game only five weeks after being appointed successor to Casey Stoney.

Reading have proven they beat anyone on their day, having secured victory against Chelsea of all teams last season. But with the good also comes the bad and it is difficult to see how the Royals will find a way to match United’s attacking quality.

Prediction: Man Utd 3-1 Reading

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