Chelsea’s ‘new’ girl is join­ing her idol

COUNT­DOWN TO BIG SU­PER LEAGUE START

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Thomas McIl­roy

CHELSEA de­fender Laura Raf­ferty ad­mits lin­ing up along­side Karen Car­ney this sea­son will be a child­hood dream come true.

Car­ney is the lat­est Eng­land su­per­star to join the Emma Hayes rev­o­lu­tion at Chelsea, that brought the WSL 1 ti­tle and FA Cup last term, the club’s first-ever tro­phies.

The 28-year-old has won 113 caps for the na­tional side, rep­re­sented Great Bri­tain at the Olympics, plied her trade across the At­lantic with Chicago Red Stars and en­joyed un­ri­valled do­mes­tic suc­cess as part of Arse­nal’s quadru­ple-win­ning team.

And 19-year-old Raf­ferty ad­mits Car­ney has al­ready made her mark, even be­fore a ball has been kicked.

“She’s an idol to all us younger play­ers,” said the North­ern Ire­land in­ter­na­tional. “She’s bril­liant on and off the pitch. Her at­ti­tude is sec­ondto-none.

“She’s a mas­sive name and all the girls can’t wait to see what she’ll bring to the team this year.”

Abun­dance

Raf­ferty, equally adept in the cen­tre of mid­field or heart of de­fence, en­joyed some­thing of a break­through cam­paign last term.

She made three ap­pear­ances in the Con­ti­nen­tal Tyres Cup, scor­ing once, though she was an un­used sub­sti­tute in a hand­ful of WSL 1 and Cham­pi­ons League matches.

De­spite the abun­dance of tal­ent at Chelsea, Hayes saw enough to re­ward Raf­ferty, pic­tured left, with her first pro­fes­sional deal.

And the for­mer Chelsea de­vel­op­ment team cap­tain hopes she can re­pay that faith and play her part in the first team’s at­tempt to match last sea­son’s ac­com­plish­ments.

“This will be my first year go­ing full-time with the girls,” said Raf­ferty, un­re­lated to Blues and Eng­land full­back Claire Raf­ferty.

“It’s a hard time to break through as there are great play­ers in ev­ery spot. I need to keep pro­gress­ing and make sure I’m al­ways learn­ing from the ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers like Ni­amh Fa­hey and Gilly Flaherty at

the back. I need to play as well as I can. This is my fourth year at the club. I’ve been with the re­serves, but my first as a pro­fes­sional.

“I know all the girls and they’re great. Break­ing into the first-team is nerve-rack­ing but, when you know all the girls, it makes it much eas­ier.

Com­mand­ing

“It’s such a re­lax­ing club. The coaches are al­ways there for us and they give us all the sup­port we need.”

Raf­ferty’s hopes of be­ing in­volved in to­day’s FA Cup fifthround tie with Don­caster Rovers Belles looked slim at the end of last month af­ter she was forced to miss rep­re­sent­ing North­ern Ire­land at the Is­tria Women’s Cup in Croa­tia through in­jury.

Yet she made a come­back in last week­end’s pre-sea­son clash over Bris­tol City, which was a com­mand­ing 7-1 vic­tory.

And, de­spite miss­ing a large chunk of pre-sea­son, Raf­ferty is rar­ing to go.

“Per­son­ally for me, pre-sea­son hasn’t been great be­cause I’ve been in­jured, but I’m com­ing back and our physio Aaron Duffy has been ab­so­lutely amaz­ing for me,” she said.

“In terms of the team, train­ing is 100mph. It’s amaz­ing –the team are look­ing re­ally good.

“The girls are al­ways out ev­ery day with a smile on their face, I’d say it’s look­ing great.”

MAR­QUEE SIGN­ING: Car­ney on Eng­land duty against Ger­many

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