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Leicester City have confirmed the appointment of England Women youth team coach Lydia Bedford as their new manager until the end of the season, replacing Jonathan Morgan after his sacking last Thursday.
As first revealed by Telegraph Sport on Monday, Bedford was the East Midlands side’s first-choice candidate, and she will be assisted by the Football Association’s former head of women’s football development, Brent Hills. They will both begin their roles on December 6.
The FA said Bedford will be "on a coaching secondment until the end of the WSL season”, allowing her to return to her role with the Under Under-17s next summer. The FA’s head of women’s technical Kay Cossington added: “This is a great move for Lydia. She is an excellent coach. I am sure that Lydia will have a very positive impact at Leicester City, and we wish her all the very best”
Bedford, who has held the Uefa Pro Licence qualification since 2019, will be managing in the WSL for the first time in her career, but she has also previously coached at Tottenham and London Bees.
Hills, who is a former assistant manager of the England Women’s national side, has had a 42-year career in the game. The remaining members of Bedford’s backroom team are yet to be confirmed, however, sources have said Manchester United Women’s academy manager Charlotte Healy could also join Bedford and Hills at Leicester in a first-team coaching capacity.
Leicester’s chief executive Susan Whelan told the club website: “Lydia is one of the rising stars of the women’s game, whose technical coaching credentials are complemented by an incredible passion for and knowledge of women’s football that can have an immediate impact on our squad.
“While addressing the form of the team on the pitch is clearly the immediate priority, I’m excited to see the impact of Lydia’s and Brent’s experiences on our entire women’s football operation. We’re grateful to the FA for allowing us to give Lydia this opportunity and look forward to her officially starting work in early December.”
Bedford added: “Leicester City’s vision for women’s football and the extent of its ambition have been obvious during the last two seasons, so I’m unbelievably excited to have the chance to be part of that. Taking the step into a senior coaching role is something I’ve always wanted to do.
“I’m delighted that Brent has agreed to join our coaching staff. His experiences in the women’s game are unrivalled and he will bring invaluable support both to the training pitch and to our strategic planning."
Leicester’s head of women’s football development and former England forward Emile Heskey will continue to oversee the team's training and preparation for Sunday, December 5’s Continental League Cup group-stage fixture against Manchester United.
Leicester, the WSL’s bottom side, are without a point so far in their first top-flight campaign. Former manager Morgan had been in charge since the 2014-15 season and led Leicester to promotion to the WSL by winning the Championship title last term as well as reaching last year’s League Cup semi-finals, but the club have suffered eight losses from eight league games so far this season.
Morgan's assistant manager Michael Makoni and first-team coach Holly Morgan, his sister and the team's former captain, also left the East Midlands club last week, so at least one further coach is likely to come into the club in the coming days.
Bedford’s first game in charge is set to be a WSL trip to league leaders Arsenal on December 12th. Her team will then host Manchester City in the League Cup on December 15, before a huge bottom-of-the-table clash against relegation rivals Birmingham City, at home on December 19, in their final fixture before the WSL’s winter break.