Hardest year of my career says Arsenal's Catley

Australia's Steph Catley (left) battles with England's Lucy Staniforth during an international friendly at Craven Cottage

Australia's Steph Catley (left) battles with England's Lucy Staniforth during an international friendly at Craven Cottage - Credit: PA

Arsenal's Steph Catley has reflected on the toughest year in her career after missing a large chunk of the season with an ankle and hamstring injury that required surgery. 

The Australian international, preparing for games against Denmark and Sweden this month, told the official Australian website: "It’s definitely been the hardest year of my football career.

"The injuries just kept coming and I couldn’t find the answers, but I found strength in myself I didn’t know I had and also strength in my relationships with the people around me.

"I learnt to lean on people and overall I feel like I’ve come out the other side of it all a much better athlete.”

Catley played six games in the Women's Super League in total for the Gunners as they finished third to qualify for the Champions League.

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The 27-year-old featured against Reading, West Ham United, Birmingham City, Manchester City, Everton and Aston Villa and the left-back says she has learnt lessons from the injuries suffered.

Arsenal's Steph Catley during an FA Women's Super League match at Meadow Park

Arsenal's Steph Catley during an FA Women's Super League match at Meadow Park - Credit: PA

"I’m now better at preparing, I feel stronger physically and mentally and just have a real appreciation for being out on the field every day doing what I love,” she added.

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“I’m feeling really good, my body feels strong and I’ve been back on the field for the last few months now so I’ve got a good amount of load back there too. But also mentally I feel really fresh and just excited to be on the field every single day.”

On Australia's camp in Sweden ahead of the summer Olympics, Catley said: “It’s the best feeling in the world. Being part of the Matildas means so much to me, so not seeing all the girls and being part of the group for so long has been so hard.

"But I’m finally fit and just so excited to see everyone and get cracking on our preparation. I’ve missed the people, from the players to the staff. It’s just a really special group."

When asked about the Australian players in the Women's Super League, Catley added: "A lot of the girls are over here in London with me so we have managed to spend a lot of time together which has been really nice, but there’s nothing like being on the same team again.

“I think our team has a really unique and deep bond that separates us from other teams. I think wherever we are in the world, whatever team we’re playing for, we’re always there to support each other and want the best for one another.

“I’ve grown up with the majority of these girls and they’re definitely like family to me.”

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