Arsenal Ladies youngster aims for regular starting place in Women’s Super League

Chloe Kelly of Arsenal (left) challenges Doncaster's Leandra Little. Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Chloe Kelly of Arsenal (left) challenges Doncaster's Leandra Little. Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Teenager Chloe Kelly believes she is ready to battle for a regular starting place in the Gunners’ front line after returning from loan at Everton.

The 18-year-old forward spent three months with the Merseysiders in Women’s Super League Two before rejoining Arsenal, where she has featured in their last two top-flight games.

Kelly is aiming to retain her place for the Gunners’ final fixture of the season – away at Liverpool on Sunday – and then appear more frequently in the line-up when matches resume in the spring.

“It’s been great to get some minutes with the girls here since my loan ended,” she said. “Hopefully I’ve made an impact and done well in the games I’ve played.

“I’m used to playing in younger age groups and my decision-making in adult football wasn’t up there. When you’re playing with bigger women your decision-making has to be quicker and I learned that at Everton.

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“They’re a great team with a lot of talented players and I learned a lot on and off the pitch from them, as well as from the manager Andy Spence, who really looks after his young players.

“Hopefully I can get my first league goal, or maybe an assist, and find my feet. What you do in the off-season is very important as well, so it’s about working hard and trying to get a starting place next season.”

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Kelly – who can play as a centre-forward or wide on either flank – made her first senior appearance for Arsenal in the Continental Cup last season, scoring on her debut against Watford.

However, the youngster’s starting role in the Gunners’ last two matches, both against Doncaster Rovers Belles, was her first taste of football at the top level.

“I have played a few Continental Cup games and they were tough but it’s completely different playing in a league of this quality,” she said. “With tougher games you’ve got to show your capability.

“In the last couple of games we’ve had a lot of younger players involved – even those on the bench like Rianna Dean, Taylor Hinds and Charlie Devlin are all young players and hopefully they’ll get a chance too.

“The young players coming through have all had opportunities, playing in Under-17 and development cup finals, and they have experience. It’s just about showing what they’ve got when they reach this level.”

Kelly – along with another of the younger forwards, Katie McCabe – was withdrawn after an hour of Sunday’s clash at Meadow Park against rock-bottom Doncaster, who had doggedly held their hosts at 0-0.

But the change proved to be an inspired one as her replacement, England striker Jodie Taylor, marked her long-awaited Gunners debut by making the breakthrough eight minutes later.

Taylor, who has missed most of the season due to injury, tucked away the rebound after Belles goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse had pushed out Emma Mitchell’s shot.

And the home side secured the points with 15 minutes remaining when Moorhouse parried Danielle Carter’s drive and Taylor slammed home the loose ball to make it 2-0.

“It’s great playing with people like Dan Carter and now Jodie Taylor,” added Kelly. “She did really well getting two goals on her first game back and all credit to her.

“You certainly can’t complain about coming off for a player like Jodie Taylor. There’s a lot of strength in the squad, with senior international players, so you can definitely learn a lot from them.”

The result confirmed that Arsenal will finish the campaign in third place, irrespective of their result against Liverpool (kick-off 6pm).

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