The Scottish Women’s National Team are back in action on Friday, for the first time in 2021. Scotland are out of the running in terms of EURO 2022 qualification following a double header defeat at the end of last year but look to end their campaign on a high with two matches against Cyprus and Portugal.
Stuart McLaren has taken interim charge of the side as they travel to Cyprus for both games. Following Friday night’s match Scotland will stay in Larnaca ahead of Tuesday’s game against Portugal which was due to be played at Easter Road but there is a change of venue due to current travel restrictions.
Hibs’ full-back Rachael Boyle retains her place in the squad whilst Celtic midfielders Lisa Robertson and Natalie Ross have been selected with Robertson aiming for her first cap and Ross looking to add to existing caps, the last of which she attained in 2009.
Kim Little, Chloe Arthur, Amy Muir, Hannah Godfrey, Christie Murray and Kirsty Smith have all been ruled out through injury meanwhile Fiona Brown, Shannon Lynn and Lana Clelland miss out due to the risk of travelling from overseas.
Claire Emslie has returned to the fray after recovering from a spell on the sidelines which ruled her out of last year’s matches against Portugal and Finland.
Cyprus have only faced Scotland on one other occasion, in their first ever competitive international match, in August 2019. Scotland won 8-0 in Scotland’s first match since the World Cup at Easter Road. Kim Little bagged 5 goals with Claire Emslie, Jane Ross and Caroline Weir also on the scoresheet.
Ahead of the match against Cyprus Stuart McLaren took time out of preparation to chat about how the week has gone so far and his hopes for the first match of the double header.
He said: “The training sessions and the team meetings have gone well and there seems to be a real clear understanding from the players about how we’re going to approach the game against Cyprus.
“We were fortunate enough to have a training camp with the home based players for two weeks prior to meeting up and that’s given me a chance to assess their strengths and areas where they can improve. From a personal point of view it was good to get those relationships built up so they felt comfortable with me and how I go about my work. Those sessions have allowed those players to be as physically as well prepared as they could possibly be.
“I’ve been impressed with their application and attitude. They’ve wanted to work hard in training and they’ve taken on the ideas put forward to them. They’ve been responsive in asking questions and providing feedback on performances. We’re impressed with the level of quality, as I knew I would be. Hopefully that will translate to when we take to the field for the game.
“It’s essential we do that. At international football all the players are technically, tactically and physically prepared so the biggest difference you can make is in your mentality. It goes without saying you’ll always do better at something when you’ve enjoying it. It’s a credit to the players that they realise these two games represent the start of the next stage, and they’re determined that it starts against Cyprus.
“We have a group of players who are more than capable of winning the game so we need to play to our best and be aware they’ll be difficult to break down, and will pose a threat on the counter attack.”
Goalkeepers Lee Alexander (Glasgow City), Megan Cunningham (Rangers), Jenna Fife (Rangers)
Defenders – Jen Beattie (Arsenal), Rachael Boyle (Hibernian), Rachel Corsie (Kansas City), Nicola Docherty (Rangers), Sophie Howard (Leicester City), Emma Mitchell (Reading), Rachel McLauchlan (Rangers)
Midfielders – Lucy Graham (Everton), Sam Kerr (Glasgow City), Lisa Robertson (Celtic), Natalie Ross (Celtic), Caroline Weir (Manchester City)
Forwards – Lizzie Arnot (Rangers), Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea), Claire Emslie (Everton), Lisa Evans (Arsenal), Kirsty Hanson (Manchester United), Zoe Ness (Rangers), Jane Ross (Manchester United), Martha Thomas (West Ham United)