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Sydney Leroux could play for Orlando Pride against Sky Blue FC on Sunday

Coach Marc Skinner is “hopeful” that the striker could return for the Pride in one of the team’s next two games.

SANFORD, Fla. — Sydney Leroux could return to the pitch for the Orlando Pride on Sunday for the first time since giving birth to her daughter in June.

Coach Marc Skinner is “hopeful” Leroux could travel to New Jersey with the team to play Sky Blue FC this weekend. He said Leroux’s performance in training suggests she is ready to return, but added the club needs to monitor her fitness to ensure that she is fully prepared for the intensity of a game. 

If she doesn’t make the trip, Skinner has “definite” plans to work her into the team’s home match against the Washington Spirit next Saturday. 

“Her sprints are still there, speed is still there, power is still there,” Skinner said. “[She] just needs a little bit more endurance.”

Leroux first returned to training with the team on August 6, less than six weeks after giving birth to her second child. Within weeks, the striker was joking that she was ready to get thrown back into a game. If she does play on Sunday, the game will mark three months and one day from the date of her daughter’s birth. It would be Leroux’s first match back with the team since September 2018.

Skinner also hopes to see a return along a similar timeline from Toni Pressley, who has been training with the team for almost two weeks following a breast cancer diagnosis earlier in the season. The defender underwent a double mastectomy on August 2, taking less than five weeks to recover before returning to training.

Pressley told Skinner she felt “wonderful” at training this morning, working into contact drills with her teammates.

For the Pride, the return of Leroux and Pressley to training has offered an injection of experience and inspiration both on and off the field at the conclusion of a challenging season. Skinner said he expects their return to full health to help his team rise to a higher level of play.

“Those are two massive characters we’ve missed this season,” Skinner said. “Just the strength, the power. Off the field, they’re leaders. When you don’t have them on your team, you miss them more than you could even know.”

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