The pitch at Leigh Sports Village is seen before the game Manchester United Women v West Ham United Ladies, FA Continental Tyres League Cup Quarter-Final football match, Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, UK - 09 Jan 2019 Photo: Jon Super for The FA

Manchester United trigger contract extensions for first team duo

Manchester United have taken up one-year options on the contracts of goalkeeper Fran Bentley and defender Kirsty Smith according to reports on the club’s official website.

Teenager Bentley missed a huge portion of 2019/2020 season through injury after suffering a fractured humerus when away with the England Under-18 squad. She has thus far only made a single appearance for Manchester United, which came during their inaugural season as a substitute against Millwall Lionesses. With the departures of Siobhan Chamberlain and Aurora Mikalsen this summer, the pathway to the starting XI looks a little less obstructed.

As for Smith, she has represented The Red Devils on 36 occasions thus far, scoring her first and only goal for the club against Leicester City in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup. The Scotland international has proven to be an adaptable option for manager Casey Stoney, filling in at either full-back position when called upon.

After taking up an option on both players’ contracts, United boss Stoney told the club’s official media sources “I’m so pleased that we have Fran and Kirsty here for another season, they are both brilliant individuals who bring so much to the team.

“Fran was unlucky to pick up an injury on international duty before the start of last season but she has been working very hard since and it’s great to see her back on the grass again.

“Kirsty continues to be an important part of the squad, she was one of our most consistent performers before the season was cut short and I’m looking forward to seeing her push herself even further next season.”

With the news that Martha Harris has also extended her contract and spanish full-back Ona Batlle having been recruited, there will certainly be a fight on for that starting spot. Goalkeeper Bentley has a much more difficult mountain to climb if she is beat both Mary Earps and Emily Ramsey to the number one jersey.

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