Northern Ireland head coach Kenny Shiels says that Barclays FA Women’s Super League clubs should be willing to offer more opportunities to his nation’s top talent.
Shiels’ team beat the Ukraine 2-1 in the first leg of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 play-off on Friday with the goals coming from Rachel Furness and Simone Magill. Northern Ireland are now preparing for their second leg tie in Belfast this evening. Should The Green and White Army hang onto their first leg advantage, they will become the nation’s first women’s team to have qualified for a major tournament.
While Northern Ireland have some representatives in their ranks from the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, head coach Shiels
believes that some teams in the English top flight are overlooking some of the talented players that his country has to offer.
“I don’t think people at the WSL realise the young talent we have here,” Shiels said when speaking in his pre-match press conference. “We don’t get the same exposure over there.
“There’s an immediate thought that if one of our players plays for Cliftonville or Glentoran, there is a condescending attitude against our young players. I’ve tried to get a few players over there (WSL) but they’re not interested.
“Hopefully, if we achieve what we want (against Ukraine), they might start saying ‘that girl is good, maybe we should see if she can play at this level’.”
While Shiels believes that some of his players are being overlooked, he did acknowledge the effect that the Barclays FA Women’s Super League has had on some of his players.
“The WSL is the place to be and is attracting the best players in Europe,” he said. “I coached Simone (Magill) when she was eight years old. I know the pathway she came through here in Northern Ireland.
“I think being with Everton has helped her at that level without a doubt. I wish we had a few more at that level.
“Rachael Furness is coming to the end of her career and has been a great player for us but you can’t achieve what these girls have achieved with just two players in the WSL.”
Northern Ireland’s UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 play-off second leg tie against Ukraine kicks-off at 7.45pm this evening.
Article author: Connor Williams