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Manchester United driven to reach WCL group stage for injured Gabby George

Manchester United are targeting a historic Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain for their stricken defender Gabby George. The summer signing from Everton tore an anterior cruciate ligament in a knee for the second time in her career during Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Leicester in the Women’s Super League and is set to undergo surgery.

It was a bad start to a huge week for United, who are looking to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League in their first foray into European football. Manager Marc Skinner said of George: “It’s obviously devastating news for her, but what I know about this club is we’ll put the player at the centre of the medical attention she needs. She’ll be loved, she’ll have people around her, we’ll make sure she rehabs and comes back stronger.

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Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s actionRead more

“When I spoke to Gabby, I said, ‘look, if there’s anything I can do for you’, and she went: ‘Can you win in Paris?’ And I was like: ‘Of course we’ll try, Gabby.’ We’re going to go as prepared as we possibly can do. We believe in ourselves and that’s not an arrogance, that’s a confidence borne from our performances. Even the game against Leicester, nine times out of 10 you win that game two or three-nil. We’ve got to be more ruthless against PSG.

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“It’s going to be two real good teams going against each other. I think it will be a wonderful moment, I really want to win it for our fans because I’d love to give them a European tour.”

Melvine Malard came off the bench to head home an equaliser last Tuesday as the first leg ended 1-1, setting up a winner-takes-all tie at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. Skinner believes the big games United have played in the WSL will stand them in good stead, saying: “We’ve got the experience to go into big stadiums and play football. We know our game plan, we know how to adapt, we know how to evolve within the game. It’s going to be an exciting game because Paris Saint-Germain will attack us, we know that.

Melvine Malard reacts at the end of the first leg of her side’s WCL qualifier against PSGMelvine Malard came off the bench to earn Manchester United a 1-1 draw against PSG in the first leg. Photograph: Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images

“What we’ve got to do is make sure we repel that but then we’ve got to be on point when we’re attacking to try and occupy what they are doing but also exploit that, and I think that we can. I trust and believe in us. I don’t think this team fears anyone, we rebel in situations where we should fear.”