20 April 2020

Bristol City boss Tanya Oxtoby feels players are showing 'signs' of anxiety and depression during coronavirus crisis

Bristol City Women's boss Tanya Oxtoby says she has seen 'signs' of anxiety and depression among her players since the suspension of the football season.

The 37-year-old Australian, who worked as a government psychologist before moving to the UK, has not coached her side for a match since they beat Birmingham 1-0 on February 23.

And with no return date on the horizon for those in the Women's Super League, Oxtoby reveals it has been tough to comfort the players.

Asked whether anxiety or depression have been an issue with the players, she told BBC Sport: "Nobody has directly used that language, but using my background all the signs are there.

"It's about trying to think outside the box in terms of how we support those players. Sometimes going head on with it and using that language isn't the best way to move forward."

Due to the rules surrounding social distancing and self-isolation, players have been forced to train on their own in their homes, often unable to do the same sorts of things they would be doing had the pandemic not taken hold.

And Oxtoby realises the difficult mental state the players are in, insisting it is something those within the club are happy to help with.

"It's just about trying to listen to them, I think," she added. "We've got an open-door policy and we've built that trust where if they're struggling they'll come and talk to us or the leadership group.

"We've had to listen to that really carefully over the past couple of weeks to make sure we get the balance right for them because it's all very, very stressful."

The FA have recently said they are still hoping to complete the WSL season by the end of August, although it appears unlikely matches will be played in the near future.

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