Bristol Academy escape World Cup pressure - Willie Kirk

Willie Kirk
Bristol Academy are yet to lose a match under Willie Kirk

Bristol Academy will benefit from the feel-good factor from the Women's World Cup without the burden of expectation England's success has brought, according to boss Willie Kirk.

The Vixens are one of two Women's Super League One sides that did not have a player involved in the competition.

They face Chelsea on Sunday, a team that had five players in Canada.

"We get to enjoy the bigger crowds and positive atmosphere without the pressure," Kirk told BBC Sport.

"Players at the World Cup got great publicity, but there is also high expectations on them to perform like that every week.

"It's a big advantage for us. We have turned it into a positive as we didn't have players at the World Cup."

Three Chelsea players - Claire Rafferty, Katie Chapman, Eniola Aluko - were part of the England squad that finished third at the World Cup.

Aluko and Chapman both featured in Saturday's third place play-off win over Germany in Edmonton.

"We are unsure of what Chelsea side we will face on Friday so are preparing for two or three different line-ups," said Kirk, who replaced Dave Edmondson as Bristol Academy manager in April and used the nine-week World Cup break to ease himself into the job and impose new ideas on the top-flight's bottom side.

"Coming into the second half of the season we have the chance to be best team. We may not have the best individuals but as a team we have worked together in numbers."

With captain Grace McCatty leaving the team to do volunteer work in Zambia and Jasmine Matthews being sidelined by an Achilles injury, Kirk has also looked to strengthen his squad,

And Bristol are expected to announce a number of signings on transfer deadline day on Thursday.

"It is necessary in terms of quality and depth in numbers," added Kirk. "With Grace going to Zambia and Jazz suffering the injury that left me with a squad of 16."

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