Northern Ireland game is just rewards for England's Chloe Kelly after prosperous year

Monday 22 Feb 2021
Chloe Kelly has managed four appearances for the Lionesses since making her debut in 2018

After almost a full year without an international fixture, Chloe Kelly is licking her lips at the prospect of representing the Lionesses once more against Northern Ireland this week.

Very few players can match Kelly's overall performance over the last 12 months as she continues to move from strength to strength following her summer switch from Everton to Manchester City. 

Her eight assists in the Barclays Women's Super League is higher than anyone else this season but she's also been finding the back of the net herself, with six goals in 14 league appearances. 

Now she will be hoping to carry her form into the fixture at St. George's Park and show the fans watching at home that she means it when she says "we can win the Euros". 

Kelly on the ball during Manchester City's 2-1 win over Arsenal earlier in February

How good does it feel to be back in an England camp - and one with an international fixture to look forward to?

It’s great to be back with the girls and it's gonna be a completely new environment with the new manager but yeah, to actually have a game against another nation and not just each other is so exciting.

It’s an opportunity to show where we at and what we are capable of on the international stage. Don’t get me wrong the in-house games we’ve been playing are extremely competitive - everyone always wants to win - so it’s probably not too different in that sense and I can’t wait to get out there.

The younger players in the groups have probably missed out on a few caps over the last year too but of course we understand the situation the world is in at the moment and I’m just very grateful to still be able to do what I love.

Yourself, Lauren Hemp and Ellen White have been in devastating form for Manchester City this season - do you think you can make that synergy work for England too?

Ells, Hempo and I are in really good form at the minute and we’ve been working really hard on the training pitch to get that understanding with each other. Of course we want to do the same for England and mark our territory there to some extent.

All of us are just enjoying our football at the minute and knowing these girls like I do, that’s when we are at our best.

The last time Kelly started for the Lionesses was alongside Manchester City teammate Lauren Hemp, against Japan on 8 March last year

One player that could potentially break up the party, depending on how Hege uses her, is Fran Kirby - is she somebody that inspires you?

Yeah, definitely. It's great to see Fran doing so well and just like seeing any of the English players doing well, you just buzz off it.

It's great to see she's having a great season and, and for the likes of young players like myself, we look up to towards the more experienced players and just love learning from them.

Coming into camps like this one is when we really get a lot of our learning done and try to take bits of their game and add it into your game.

What is a realistic target in relation to the upcoming major tournaments and the group of players that England have at their disposal right now?

I do believe that we can win the Euros and go very far in though in the Olympics too. For me it’s just about gelling as a group now and combination of young and experienced players we have at the moment is just great.

The camps that we’ve had over the last few months have been great for that too and although we haven’t had the fixtures, we’ve had the chance to really bond as a group. We believe that we can achieve great things, especially with a new coach coming in with new ideas.

Hege has been to these tournaments and knows how to win them and that is only going to make this team better. It’s a really exciting situation to be in at the moment and it makes me feel very grateful.

By Tom Dean