Interview

Fran Kirby on keeping the focus; England Women boss Phil Neville classes the forward as one of the best in the world

Fran Kirby, who has had a blistering start to the 2020/21 season, was once again on the scoresheet for Chelsea FC Women on Sunday and the forward discusses her ambitions both on a personal level and for the team…

The Blues comfortably defeated title rivals Manchester City 3-1 last weekend, with the 27-year-old setting up our second goal and scoring the third, earning herself the Barclays FA Women’s Super League Player of the Match award.

‘I changed positions, I’ve been playing out wide, but then I came in the middle and I knew I wanted to stretch the pitch a little bit,’ Kirby analysed post-match.

‘When I saw Erin [Cuthbert] get the ball, I knew she plays those balls perfect for me down the middle and I made the decision to go around the goalkeeper.

‘I panicked a little bit because I saw I was a bit further away from goal than I’d have liked to be but I’m really happy to get the goal and I’m happy to get a three points and a good team performance.’

The talented striker has made more than 100 Chelsea appearances, netting 68 goals and is on course to finding her best form following her absence from the squad last term due to illness.

Kirby was naturally very happy with her displays so far this term, but her main focus is heavily on the team’s performances and trophy aspirations.

In reference to her former illness, Kirby said: ‘I’m really happy, I’ve kind of put that to bed a little bit, I’m not really focusing on that.

‘I’m not really seeing this as a comeback anymore because I had a really good pre-season and I haven’t missed anything. I’m seeing it as a new season and hopefully I can keep putting the performances in.

‘Right now I’m focusing on making sure I work hard in training and do the job on the pitch which hopefully my team-mates appreciate.

‘We want to make sure that we focus on each game as it comes, we’ve talked about being very defensively disciplined and we want to make sure we keep as many clean sheets as we possibly can.

‘Ultimately we want to win the league and we want to win as many trophies as we can, but right now we want to make sure we stay defensively disciplined and put on good performances.’

Yesterday Kirby and four of her Chelsea team-mates were named in Phil Neville’s Lionesses squad for their upcoming friendly versus Germany. Should she feature in this fixture, it will be her first England appearance since the 2019 World Cup.

The England boss commented on Kirby’s comeback and said: ‘She knows what I think of her. It goes obviously beyond football what she’s gone through and she’s handled it incredibly.

‘One thing that’s probably annoyed me in the last two or three weeks is you watch the coverage and go to games and the focus has been on the USA players and Harder. I think what we mustn’t forget is – I think Fran Kirby is one of the best players in the world.

'We shouldn’t forget our own, and I think we have. We sometimes as a country probably look afar and think "they’re better than us". But I think what I’ve seen this season is, yes the Americans coming to the league is brilliant, and I think they’re fantastic players, but not one of those players that’s come to the league has played as well as our Fran Kirby.

‘She is world class, a game changer, and can do things that probably most number 10s can’t do. I think she is at this moment in time one of the best players, most exciting players in world football.'
 

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