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Northern Ireland’s Demi Vance will be one of the best players in her position at the Euro finals, insists boss Kenny Shiels


Demi Vance appears a certainty to be part of Northern Ireland's squad for Euro 2022

Demi Vance appears a certainty to be part of Northern Ireland's squad for Euro 2022

William Cherry/Presseye

Demi Vance appears a certainty to be part of Northern Ireland's squad for Euro 2022

Northern Ireland will go to the Women’s Euro 2022 finals as the lowest ranked of the 16 competing teams, but with ‘one of the best players in the tournament in her position’ in the squad.

So says manager Kenny Shiels.

The boss has given that standout billing to the dynamic Demi Vance, who will now take to the big stage at the Euro finals under the microscope of clubs across the continent.

She will enter the tournament as a free agent, just weeks after helping Rangers Women win their first Scottish Premier League title.

Goalkeeper Jackie Burns is another who will now use the championships as a shop window after reaching a mutual agreement with Swedish club BK Hacken to release her early from the two-year contract she signed less than four months ago.

Vance’s deal at Ibrox runs out on Thursday and she will move on after not agreeing terms on a new contract.

“I look at Demi Vance and I see so many qualities, both as a player and a person and in her playing ability and mentally too,” said Shiels.

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“She has worked very hard over the last 18 months to come back from a cruciate ligament injury — an injury that can impact badly on a player — and is right back at the top of her game.

“That doesn’t just happen. You have to have a good attitude and be mentally strong to be able to do that.

“I made her captain against Belgium because she shows great leadership in the squad.

“She has been outstanding for me. She is strong defensively and is an important part of how we want to play with the ball because of her passing ability and we have all seen what her set piece delivery is like as well.

“You look at the free-kick she scored against Austria when we drew 2-2 with them. It was amazing strike. That’s what she is capable of.

“I believe that in Demi we will have one of the best players in the tournament in her position and that she will go to Southampton and prove that.”

Vance leaves despite playing a key role in Rangers’ league success, weighing in with important goals from defence.

Burns played just twice during her spell in Sweden and the club explained that there was a mutual understanding that she wanted more playing time, having been behind Swedish international Jennifer Falk, who will be her country’s number two at the Euros.

“It is sad that my time in Hacken is over,” said Burns.

“It has been good for developing for me personally before the European Championships this summer.”

Shiels’ ringing endorsement of Vance’s abilities would strongly indicate that she will be included in the 23-player squad for the finals that the Irish FA will officially unveil at an event at Windsor Park at 3pm this afternoon.

After the game in Belgium, Shiels had his mind made up on 21 of the players who would be travelling and that left no more than five under consideration for the final two places.

Twenty four made the trip to Belgium and at least two of those face being cut due to Uefa regulations dictating that each squad of 23 players must include three goalkeepers.

Only Burns and Becky Flaherty – who replaced Burns when she was sent off with 20 minutes to go – went to Belgium and one of Maddy Harvey-Clifford, Lilie Crooks or Shannon Turner will take the third spot.

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