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Northern Ireland can go on a winning run and reach Euro 2022 finals, insists Lauren Wade

Women's Euro 2022 qualifier


Lauren Wade

Lauren Wade

Getty Images

Lauren Wade

Having sampled the big time at club level, Lauren Wade is hungrier than ever to do the same with her country.

And if she can repeat her own individual Champions League heroics when Northern Ireland face the Faroe Islands in a Women's Euro 2022 qualifier in Torshavn tonight, it could be a big step along a road that the country hasn't been down before.

The Glasgow City striker's stunning left-foot lob from the corner of the penalty area was the highlight of last month's Champions League quarter-final against Wolfsburg, despite the Germans winning the game 9-1.

Now the 26-year-old Coleraine woman's sights are set on securing a victory over the Faroes and sparking a winning run that will give Kenny Shiels' team a real chance of claiming a play-off berth.

Home and away wins against the Faroes and Belarus, along with Norway beating Wales twice, would earn Northern Ireland at least a two-legged tie with a first ever tournament finals place as the reward. The top three group runners-up will qualify automatically for the finals in England.

"We want to get to the play-offs and then the finals," said Wade.

"That is something special that we can achieve for the first time ever and it's all very exciting."

Lauren was part of the group that Shiels has had training on a regular basis since restrictions on sporting activities were eased early in the summer.

That Champions League clash with Wolfsburg is, however, the only competitive game she has played as the Scottish season doesn't kick off until next month.

Even those playing at home in Northern Ireland have only played three times, and those who are in England just twice, putting Shiels' players at something of a disadvantage against a Faroes team whose league has been operating all summer.

"Some of the other countries have been training all the way through lockdown and things like that might be against us, but we have to make sure we are ready for the game," said 23-times capped Wade.

"That's what we have been working hard towards. Before returning to Glasgow after lockdown, I was in training with the squad and the girls at home have worked very hard.

"We've been trying to make sure we're ready for the game against the Faroe Islands, and every game from here on in is a game that we're looking to win."

Wade is a certain starter at Torsvollur - the Faroe Islands national stadium, which has an artificial surface.

Injuries mean that other places in the team are up for grabs. Sheffield United goalkeeper Becky Flaherty picked up an injury on her comeback following surgery, meaning Jacqueline Burns and Lauren Perry are figthing it out for the No.1 shirt.

Rangers' Megan Bell has a broken leg and Hearts' Louise McDaniel isn't match fit, while Laura Rafferty, who has joined Bristol City on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion isn't fully fit either after cruciate ligament surgery.

After losing Marissa Callaghan due to personal reasons, Shiels has called up Glentoran forward Caragh Hamilton, who has played just three domestic games after some time away from the game.

Caragh has been hugely impressive after rejoining the Glens and that has prompted Shiels to call up a player is still Northern Ireland's youngest senior international having made her debut as a 15-year-old back in 2012.





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Belfast Telegraph