The Lionesses’ preparations for UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 are well underway and one player finding herself in the spotlight is Chelsea star Fran Kirby.
Many doubted that the prolific midfielder would be part of manager Sarina Wiegman’s plans following a lack of playing time towards the end of the season as a result of a fatigue enforced absence that started at the end of February.
Despite this, Kirby has defied the odds and is happy to be back on the pitch ahead of the big event, with her saying: “Yeah it’s been really nice. I think it definitely helped that I was back in training with Chelsea before coming in and being involved a little bit in the FA Cup final.”
As part of the sqaud’s final main media day before the start of the tournament, they were allowed to invite members of their former youth teams to watch and support the team at their training session on Tuesday morning, with Kirby’s side Caversham Trents being one of those lucky enough to make the trip.
Ella, a player currently with the team, is proud of the fact that she plays for the same side that such a notable player came from, saying: “It makes me feel that the fact she’s come from the same place we have gives us the same opportunity that she had to get to where she is!”
Kirby was grateful for the presence of her childhood club and whilst wanting to make them proud, she also wants that reach to extend to young girls all over the country and beyond.
“I don’t think it’s just in the areas you’re from, I think it’s from all over the country and all over Europe. “We wanna show these young girls that there’s a chance they will be able to participate in these tournaments and it’s great that they were able to come because they sometimes come down to my football camps in Caversham, so it’s really nice they can make the trek up here and see everyone and be a part of the day, so I thought that was really special!” were her thoughts regarding the impact that she hopes the tournament will have on young players.
Kirby also touched on her recent experiences with Wiegman, detailing her interactions with the manager.
“I walked in and I saw her smiling so then I was like, ‘okay, hopefully she’s not smiling and sending me home!’, but yeah, it was really nice. “She told me that she all along knew that I was going to be an important part of this team, and we had some really honest conversations leading into it” was her account of her meeting with Wiegman upon learning she had made it into the squad.
“She’s been really good. Obviously with my injury and illness history, it does take me a bit of time to recover from certain situations, or maybe there’s sessions where I can’t do the full session when we’ve had a game, or we have a busy week” Kirby continued in regards to her relationship with the boss.
Due to the fatigue issues that crept up earlier in the year, many doubted that Kirby would make it into the squad, with the midfielder sharing her own feelings on this and her own experiences.
“I wouldn’t say that there was fear, because I just didn’t really think about it. I never really had in the back of my mind, ‘oh my god, I’m not going to get selected for the Euros now’, because I just wasn’t focusing my energy feeling like that” was Kirby’s personal stance on her chances at the time.
“Going into Chelsea to training, I had conversations with Emma [Hayes] and just said, ‘look, what will be will be, if I’m ready I’m ready” she continued.
Kirby’s quick recovery and return to fitness has been a joy to see for both fans and those close to her alike, with her expressing how much of a journey it has been, but nevertheless a journey with a goal.
Some have questioned how exactly she went around recovering, with her detailing some methods she used, but not stating that some were more effective than others, with her saying: “It’s a difficult one because I like to do all of them to be fair. “I don’t think there’s one specific thing that helped me the most. “Being able to have access to the things I have had access to, was incredible and I feel really lucky and privileged that I had the club, Chelsea and obviously England as well, who were all coming together, brainstorming on how to work with different people, so I wouldn’t say there’s a specific one even though going in the oxygen tent always looked a bit scary but it was quite cool.”
With the Euros just two weeks away, Kirby will be hoping to play an important role in the Lionesses’ final two warm-up games against Wiegman’s old side the Netherlands, as well as a trip to Switzerland, with the hope she can land a starting place against Austria at Old Trafford on July 6th.