Scotland coach frustrated in bid to recruit defenders

29/03/17 
 HAMPDEN PARK - GLASGOW 
 Scotland Women's head coach Anna Signeul
29/03/17 HAMPDEN PARK - GLASGOW Scotland Women's head coach Anna Signeul
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Scotland head coach Anna Signeul says she is largely unconcerned about a spate of injuries to key players ahead of next month’s friendly against Belgium.

The game, in Leuven on 11 April, is the seventh of ten preparation games ahead of Euro 2017. No fewer than eight players, including Arsenal midfielder Kim Little, were missing from the 19-player squad named yesterday.

Signeul’s main problems are in defence. Three of her four central defenders – Rachel Corsie, Jen Beattie and Joelle Murray – cannot be risked, while two full backs are also out. One of them, Arsenal’s Emma Mitchell, is likely to be out for three or four months with a hamstring injury and could miss the Euros.

Compounding the Swede’s difficulties, goalkeeper and captain Gemma Fay has started the season at Glasgow City on the bench. The champions’ head coach, Scott Booth, has preferred the uncapped Lee Alexander; both are in the squad along with Vittsjo’s Shannon Lynn.

Celtic captain Kelly Clark has been drafted into the squad despite not being on Signeul’s short-list for the Euros. Two other uncapped central defenders, Vaila Barsley and Sophie Howard, are expected to join her. Barsley, 29, plays in Sweden with Eskilstuna United and Howard, 23, in Germany with Hoffenheim – but both are Scottish qualified. Signeul expressed frustration that an unnamed home nation failed to complete the required paperwork for them to be included yesterday.

“It’s going to be resolved,” she promised, “but we’ve been waiting one and a half weeks for this paperwork and we’ve been chasing and chasing. It’s not hard.”

Neither Wales nor Northern Ireland has a connection with either of the central defenders.