Nine months after joining Chelsea from Paris Saint-Germain, Ashley Lawrence has the opportunity to experience her first cup final in English football.

The Canadian international possesses a glittering CV as six successful years in France brought two Coupe de France triumphs and a Division 1 Feminine title.

Lawrence has also accumulated over 100 caps for her country and won gold at the delayed 2020 Olympic Games. Put simply, the Toronto-born defender is ready-made for the big occasion.

It's why her first final on English soil – which comes against Arsenal on Sunday in the Continental Tyres League Cup – will not be cause for nervousness nor trepidation. Yet Lawrence expects a very different pre-match feeling.

‘I’m really excited to play in a final and have the chance to win a first trophy,' she explains. 'This is why I joined, to play in these games.

'It is a different feeling on the day of the game and the build-up. Every day is important ahead of it. But we’ve also had to make sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves, with so many big games at the moment.

‘Knowing there is a trophy there for you at the end of these games, you definitely have added motivation. So there is a different feeling ahead of a final but I know it's important to not fixate on it.’

Victory over Arsenal would provide Lawrence, who has displayed her quality and versatility during the campaign, with an early piece of silverware to show for her first season at Chelsea.

There have been challenges along the way – including an extended period away from Chelsea as Canada competed at the Concacaf W Gold Cup in America – but Lawrence has enjoyed the different experiences.

‘It has been a smooth transition for me,' she says. 'Living in France for so long, over time that became my home away from home. So this was always going to be a big change for me, even if it wasn’t far in terms of travel.

‘Everything is new, from the culture to the league. I knew that coming in but once you’re in it, it still takes time to adjust. Everyone here at the club has been great to me and that has helped the process. It’s a top environment.’

The recent fortnight away at the Gold Cup saw Lawrence play a key role as Canada reached the semi-finals, where they were narrowly beaten on penalties by the USWNT.

There was little time for Lawrence to digest that disappointment as on her return to Chelsea, she was back helping the Blues compete across four fronts.

‘It [the Gold Cup] was nice to change environments and bring me a different perspective. It was a good experience and test for us [at Canada] with the Olympics coming up later this year.

‘Obviously, it’s never ideal to have a tournament in the middle of the club season. But I think it let me regroup a little bit as well.

‘Being at Chelsea is a high-level environment, so being integrated and ready to play doesn’t come straight away. The goal is to play as many games as possible. But that is not always easy when you’re coming back from such a far distance.

‘It is just about managing and balancing the demands of both teams.’

If one trait has defined Lawrence’s Chelsea career to date, it is her energy. In a season in which the squad has been hit hard by injuries, the Canadian’s tireless presence down the right flank has been welcome.

As any regular at Kingsmeadow will testify, up close Lawrence’s industrious performances demand great physical exertion – as she consistently supports attacks while remaining defensively solid.

Not every player has the engine required for such a gruelling task. Lawrence certainly does – and it can be partially put down to her athletic background. As a child, she was a capable track runner, with the 800m and 1500m her favoured events.

‘I think it has helped,' she says. 'I did a load of it when I was younger, then when I got a bit older I chose football. But I naturally had a good level of endurance. 800m was ideal, it’s a hard event to do, but that was my main one for sure.

‘When we do fitness testing as players, I was always able to run for a long time, repeating accelerations. I think that is really fitting for my position now as a full-back.

‘I grew up playing midfield or as a forward, and it was only in 2015 that I was asked to change. The coach of the national team at that time saw something in me in that position, with the physical qualities I had.

'I didn’t want to do it but thinking about the modern-day full-back, they have a very specific profile I think. You need to be able to get up and down the field, be a good defender first, but also add something to the team attacks.

'I feel like I’ve always had that, always had a lot of energy and it’s great to be able to exert that.'

Those levels of endurance are likely to be needed to get through Sunday’s showdown with Arsenal. The cup final comes amid a rigorous month for the Blues, with eight games taking place throughout March across all four competitions.

The majority of those have proved difficult tests; the recent WSL win at West Ham is the perfect example. But for Lawrence, this is exactly why she wanted to test herself on this side of the channel.

‘I think there’s more of a gap in France from the top two or three teams to the rest [of the league]. But every team here is close to winning, fighting for the result, regardless of who they are playing, teams are not afraid here.

‘That makes every game competitive and not easy. It makes for an exciting league and you don’t know who the champion is going to be at the end. That’s difficult, but as a player, we don’t want it to be easy.

‘It keeps you out of your comfort zone. Every game here is like a final, so that is a really big difference and why I wanted to test myself in this league.’

The next game will be an actual final. And in a sport of fine margins, Lawrence knows just how big the support from the travelling Chelsea fans could prove.

'The fans have been amazing this year. It makes a huge difference for us on the field and I’m not sure they fully realise it sometimes.

'That can give us the edge in the final, so hopefully, they come in numbers and help us.'