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Women's Football News
Claire Rafferty is looking forward to happier times after coming back from a serious injury which halted her fledgling career.
The talented 17-year-old scored twice for Millwall Lionesses in their 4-1 victory over Southampton Saints and she told Women's Soccer Scene that it was a much needed win for her side. "We're very relieved," said Claire. "We got off to a bad start at Barnet so we went into the game to prove a point to ourselves, as much as everyone else. Our performance was okay but I think that we can get better.
"When the first goal went in, we conceded straight away but in the second half we went out with a different mindset and scored three times."
Claire grabbed two of the goals and was happy with each of them. "For my first goal, Claire Williams played a good pass behind their defence and I ran on to it and put it past the goalkeeper with my right foot," she says. "The second came direct from a corner, I aimed it towards the back post and the wind helped it in."
Millwall were one of the teams who challenged for the Southern Division title last season and she feels they can be up there again this time. "Our league is quite difficult as you have to be consistent and that is what we are hoping to be," she replies. "We have a young side and a good team spirit is building - there is no team which is outstanding in our division and we want to win the league."
However for Claire, to be back playing again is already an achievement. "Last summer I snapped my ACL," she recalls, "so I had to have a full reconstruction. Some of my hamstring was put into my knee to help build it up again but, after a long rehab, I managed to return to the Millwall team and was a substitute for our last game of the season.
"I always knew that I would be back playing again, as I was determined to show everyone that I could do it."
Claire's return was also monitored by England and she was immediately selected for the under-17 squad for last season's Nationwide Tournament. "I was a bit surprised as I didn't know they knew I was back," she smiles. "I was a substitute for the first match but started in the other two, coming off in both as I lacked match fitness. But it was a good tournament and that team had a great spirit, and it was great that we were the winners."
Hot on the heels of her two goals at Southampton, Claire's comeback was complete as she learned that she had been selected for the England under-19 squad for this month's UEFA Championship qualifying group in Estonia. "I only found out this week but I was very happy to see my name there," she says. "A few of the girls I have known through all the ages are also there. I want to be in the starting line up but I'm not sure I will, as there are a number of experienced players in the squad.
"I don't really know anything about the other teams in the group but they will all be good teams. The aim of course is to get through and hopefully I'll be playing in all the qualifiers this season. Mo Marley is a very good coach and I am pleased to be working with her."
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