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Manchester City praise impact of Carli Lloyd before Champions League quarter-final

Carli Lloyd has made an instant impact for Manchester City in her first three games and enabled her team-mates to “see the bigger picture” according to the team’s manager, Nick Cushing.

The American scored the winner in City’s Champions League quarter-final first leg victory at Fortuna last week and Cushing’s side host the Danish champions in the return match on Thursday night at the City Football Academy with the tie in their control due to the Lloyd’s vital away strike.

The 34-year-old, who signed on a short-term deal from Houston Dash six weeks ago, is one of the sport’s superstars. The midfielder scored the winners in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic finals for the US and a hat-trick in the 2015 World Cup final triumph over Japan. She has a total of 96 international goals, and, is a double Fifa player of the year, for 2015 and 2016.

Cushing said: “Her character has enticed the others to see the bigger picture of what you can achieve and that by working hard on the training pitch you can achieve what you want to achieve. The players have reacted really well because we want good people here. She’s hit the ground running and she’s fit into the squad like we knew she would because of the type of person she is.”

Karen Bardsley, City’s goalkeeper, concurred. “We’ve learnt from the extent of her hard work and it’s made a lot of us realise that we can take things up another level and using every single day so that you develop,” the 32-year-old said. “The girls love having her here and I think she really enjoys being here. You can tell she’s fitted really nicely into the group.”

City are the reigning Super League champions and, though Cushing believes winning the Champions League may be out of reach this season, it is very much their long-term ambition.

“I’m not going to shy away from the fact that my aim is to win the Champions League. If we play well then we’ll make the semi-final,” he said. “We’ve prepared as we always would. If we repeat the performances from previous games and score it gives us the best chance to go through to the semis.”

Reflecting on last week’s victory at the Bredband Nord Arena, Cushing said: “It wasn’t our best performance in terms of goals and attacking football but I think it was probably the most professional performance we’ve produced. To go there and control the game and dominate a team that are in the competition every year, I was really pleased.

“My aim is not to win it this season – I’m not a fool. It’s the same as with the WSL. I didn’t expect that in the first year – you need time to develop the tactical and physical side of the game. But this football club will win the Champions League, with or without me.

“I am the coach at the moment and will keep improving this team. There is no expectation from the club but I have expectations on myself. I want to push the team every day to be successful.”