A core is the key to our Euro dream...
FISHLOCK BACKS WELSH CAMPAIGN
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.
“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.”
HOT ON YOUR HEELS: Jess Fishlock, right, tracks England’s Eniola Aluko