Chelsea’s ‘new’ girl is joining her idol
COUNTDOWN TO BIG SUPER LEAGUE START
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.”
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.
“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