A core is the key to our Euro dream...

FISHLOCK BACKS WELSH CAM­PAIGN

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Kieran Thievam

JESS FISHLOCK be­lieves a strong core will be key to Wales qual­i­fy­ing for Euro 2017 as she and her team­mates kick off their cam­paign against Aus­tria on Tues­day.

The Seat­tle Reign midfielder and her col­leagues have been in camp since Thurs­day as they pre­pare for one of the tougher chal­lenges in their group, with the Aus­tri­ans the sec­ond seeded side be­hind Euro 2013 fi­nal­ists, Nor­way.

But with the likes of He­len Ward re­turn­ing to the fold af­ter miss­ing a large part of World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion due to preg­nancy, and Tash Hard­ing star­ring for Manch­ester City Women, Fishlock is con­fi­dent her side can reach their first ma­jor fi­nals.

Fo­cus

“You need a good mix of play­ers be­cause it helps to progress the team and hope­fully new blood will help us move for­ward,” she said.

“But we’ve had the same core, a strong core, for quite a while now, which has been cru­cial to our rise over the last few years.”

This will be Wales’ first com­pet­i­tive fix­ture un­der man­ager Jayne Lud­low af­ter she took over from Finn Jarmo Matikainen in Novem­ber, and Fishlock be­lieves early points on the board will be good for con­fi­dence as the Welsh seek to book their place in the Nether­lands.

“It’s a huge, huge game for us, and if we can avoid de­feat, that will be a good start for us.

“We know Aus­tria will be tough, but we have to fo­cus on our­selves and try and build on our World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion.”

The Aus­tri­ans have al­ready kicked off their qual­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign, win­ning 2-0 in Kaza­khstan on Thurs­day, but the Seat­tle Reign midfielder is not daunted by the chal­lenge, and be­lieves now is the time for Wales to reach a ma­jor tour­na­ment.

“If you look at our rise and where we've come from, qual­i­fy­ing for a ma­jor tour­na­ment is the next step for us, and I think we have the play­ers who are good enough to do that.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HOT ON YOUR HEELS: Jess Fishlock, right, tracks Eng­land’s Eniola Aluko

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