Lincoln Ladies boss Glen Harris has high hopes for his England double act
Glen Harris believes the burgeoning international partnership of Casey Stoney and Sophie Bradley will reap its rewards for the Lady Imps during their crucial run of fixtures.
Injury-permitting, centre-backs Stoney and Bradley will play together for Lincoln for only the second time this season when they return to Women's Super League action against Chelsea at Ashby Avenue on Sunday (2pm).
Bradley missed the opening games of the season with an ankle injury, returning earlier this month for the Continental Cup victory over Liverpool.
However, Stoney and Bradley have been playing together for England.
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The pair helped the Lionesses to a crucial 1-0 victory over Holland in last Sunday's Euro 2013 qualifier at Salford.
And they are set to play again tonight in Slovenia when England attempt to take another giant step towards next summer's tournament in Sweden.
Harris hopes the duo will return to Lincoln in tip-top condition to help the Lady Imps improve their worrying defensive record.
"We've conceded too many goals this season," said Harris, whose side have conceded eight in five league games.
"There are a couple of reasons for that. We've not had a settled defence as we've had to chop and change.
"Sophie has been injured and only came back for the Liverpool game.
"Of course, we've lost her and Casey from training because they've been with England.
"But on the plus side, Sophie will have a couple of games under her belt and will come back sharper.
"She'll also have played more games with Casey which will benefit us."
Harris admits Lincoln can afford no more slip-ups in their quest for a top-two spot.
The Lady Imps boss says his side face three must-win home games before the mid-season break for the Olympic Games.
After facing Chelsea on Sunday, Bristol Academy and Liverpool will visit Ashby Avenue in the league.
Harris still believes the Ladies can improve on last season's fourth place, but admits wins are now a must.
"We must win these games really," admitted Harris.
"I've been a little disappointed with the last two performances against Doncaster (a 2-1 league defeat) and Liverpool.
"But there have been a few positives as well. We started both games really well and against Liverpool we showed great character.
"We came back from a goal down twice and then pinched a late winner.
"We just need to be more consistent and string that level of performance together for 90 minutes."
Striker Jess Clarke is set to return to the squad following a knee injury.
Super League Fixtures
Saturday, June 23: Arsenal Ladies v Birmingham Ladies, Bristol Academy v Everton Ladies.
Sunday, June 24, 2pm: Lincoln Ladies v Chelsea Ladies.