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Manchester City's Golden Glove winner Roebuck eyes England starting spot

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With an Olympics, Euros and World Cup on the horizon, it's hard not to think that Ellie Roebuck's career is on the verge of some big moments.

At Manchester City she has successfully challenged England No. 1 Karen Bardsley for a starting position this season, keeping 10 clean sheets in 16 Women's Super League (WSL) appearances and earning herself the 2019-20 Golden Glove.

While she is one of the less experienced figures on the international side, she has five caps, her performances at City have fans lining her up between the sticks in what many consider a defining period for women's football in England.

The disappointment of failing to make the World Cup final is still raw for many and with a new manager coming in the middle of a packed international schedule, there is a hope that the Lionesses' young stars could lead the side to some gold medals.

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"If you asked anyone what they were doing for the next three years and they said an Olympics, Euros and work hard to get into those squads they'd snatch your hand off so overall I'm pretty happy to be in that position," Roebuck told ESPN.

"It's an exciting time for me personally. Both club and internationally I'm in a good position where both teams are really, really brilliant teams and they have the mentality that they want to win so being a part of that is exciting."

Few 20-year-olds are used to handling such pressure but Roebuck has been doing it since the start of her career.

She joined City at 15 and the last time she competed at a Euros, for England's under-17's in 2016, she sat her biology GCSE exam in the British Embassy in Minsk during the tournament.

A week after signing her first professional contract at 18, she was called onto the pitch for Bardlsey -- an England icon -- just two minutes into a must-win game against title rivals Chelsea. Roebuck not only kept a clean sheet that day but made several impressive saves as she shut down the efforts of Drew Spence and Fran Kirby.

The pressure hasn't abated since then and the Sheffield-born stopper has had to navigate a turbulent year for the Manchester club as she tried to cement her starting position.

In January, manager Nick Cushing announced he was leaving the club after six years for a role with New York City in the MLS. His departure ended a reign where he won six major trophies, including the 2016 WSL title and two FA Cups.

In March, when City were sitting top of the WSL table, the league was curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic and in May the season was cancelled outright. City lost the title to Chelsea, who were in second with a game in hand, with the league decided on a points-per-game basis.

"Obviously the team was really disappointed because we thought we had put ourselves in such a good position," Roebuck said.

"Especially at that point in the season. Obviously we were top of the league and for reasons that are understandable it had to be cut short and rightly so it was given to Chelsea but I think we were ready to fight to win the league.

"You can't really do anything about it. We'll just have to use that momentum now going into next season to win some silverware."

Gareth Taylor is the man tasked with leading the women on that trophy hunt. The ex-Wales and City striker has never coached a women's team before, previously being involved with City's academy with Cushing, but has already gained respect for how he took on the position in a pandemic.

"Obviously it is different," Roebuck said. "We've been used to Nick for a couple of years now so having a new manager in is really exciting.

"If we can portray the style of football he wants us to play, I think we'll be really successful. It is a great way of playing and I'm sure it'll break a lot of teams down. We want to win and he's coming in with that mentality that we win. There's no other way about it."

Roebuck is part of a new young crop of England internationals who have benefitted from having professional support from a young age. Her development ahead of the stream of international tournaments has been helped by the close working relationship of all the coaches and players, men's and women's, at City.

"For me, I think Ederson leads the way in the Premier League. Again, I might be biased," she said.

"His distributions are a joke and he's not a bad goalkeeper as well so it works nicely.

"I think in the men's game at the moment you've seen a shift in style. The teams are very dependent on the goalkeeper being able to play and that's something that especially us as a women's side have really looked to emulate."

On the women's side, Bardsley and Chelsea keeper Carly Telford -- who Roebuck spent time with at England camps -- have been vital to helping her develop.

"KB", as Roebuck refers to Bardsley, taught the young star early on about the importance of making sure all aspects of her game -- from what she does on the pitch to how she conditions herself off it -- were tight. Telford has been instrumental in giving her "little tips here and there" to build her game.

"It's nice that we all have that working relationship really because you can quite easily become 'I don't want to help you' it's only one position but I've never really come across that. I've been quite lucky with all the goalkeepers I've come across."

City will start their first season under Taylor on the first weekend in September against newly promoted Aston Villa. With Champions League football secured and rumours that U.S. Women's National Team stars Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle are going to sign with the club, times are exciting for Roebuck before the international calendar is even taken into consideration.

"Win everything," Roebuck said when asked what she wants to achieve over the next five years. "That is my aim and then I can just chill."