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Steph Houghton: Man City captain to miss Barcelona tie

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Manchester City players celebrate beating Fiorentina in the last 16
Manchester City beat Fiorentina 8-0 on aggregate in the last 16
Fixture: Barcelona v Manchester City Date: Wednesday, 24 March Kick-off: 11:30 GMT Venue: Brianteo Stadium, Italy BBC coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Captain Steph Houghton will miss Manchester City’s Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie with Barcelona on Wednesday.

Houghton picked up an injury “in the Achilles area” in the 3-0 win over Fiorentina at the start of the month.

City travel to Italy for the first leg before hosting Barcelona in Manchester on 31 March.

“It’s really difficult to answer when [Houghton] will be back,” said City boss Gareth Taylor.

“It is one we anticipated would have settled down by now. It’s not settled down as quickly as we would have liked, or certainly what Steph would have liked.

“She is obviously really disappointed to not be here with the team. We’re hoping it’s not too far away. We will always look at what the right thing [is to do] for the player.”

Taylor said City have “good cover” in Houghton’s absence, with USA international Abby Dahlkemper expected to feature.

“Obviously, we would love to have the skipper there but we got by without her previously against Fiorentina [in the second leg],” added Taylor.

“Abby’s a big game player. She’s played in big games. I’m sure it’s one that she’ll cope with no problem.”

Dahlkemper, who signed from North Carolina Courage in January, said the opportunity to play in the Champions League was “definitely part of the reason I joined City”.

“My experience so far has been amazing,” she added. “I have only been here for two months but it feels like longer.

“That’s a testament to the quality of players that are surrounding me and the coaching staff that makes this team run. I’m really looking forward to [the game] and playing in the Champions League.”

‘This is what we’re in it for’

Abby Dahlkemper against Fiorentina in the last 16 of the Champions League
Abby Dahlkemper is one of three USA internationals who joined Manchester City this season

In order to reach the final, City will have to overcome 2019 finalists Barcelona, before a potential semi-final tie with French champions Lyon, who have won five consecutive Champions League titles.

But Taylor said “it’s a good challenge” for his side and their focus remains solely on the quarter-final.

“This is what we’re in it for; to really challenge ourselves and come up against good teams,” he added.

“Sometimes there are easier routes to get to a final but we’re not looking at the final at this moment in time. We’re looking at getting to the next stage.

“It’s a difficult tie but at this stage no matter who you face in the quarter-finals, there is a reason why those teams are there. There’s no easy game.”

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