Hibs to benefit as foursome make mark in Scotland side
Hibernian captain Joelle '¨Murray believes increasing international recognition can only help her club as they attempt to win further domestic honours on top of last year's cup double.
There were four Hibs players on the pitch for the second half of Monday’s 3-1 win against Austria in Nicosia – central defender Murray, full-backs Rachel McLauchlan and Kirsty Smith, and wide midfielder Lizzie Arnot.
That coincided with Scotland’s best 45-minute performance in three Cyprus Cup games to date. All the goals came in the last 30 minutes, Arnot’s surging break from defence setting Lisa Evans up for the third, outstanding strike.
Scotland play Wales in the fourth, and final, game of the tournament this afternoon.
While 30-year-old Murray, who made her 40th international appearance against Austria, has been around Scottish squads for almost ten years, the others are just starting to make their mark.
Smith was a regular replacement for a former Hibs player, Frankie Brown, during Euro 2017 qualifying, but Arnot got her first 90 minutes on Monday and McLauchlan her first 45 when she came on at the start of the second half.
“Having the younger ones getting this experience to take back to the club is brilliant and you can’t buy that,” Murray pointed out. “When Rachel came on it was obviously her, myself and Kirsty in the back four.
“It’s always good to see club team-mates in the international fold.
“Rachel has a big future. Her resilience, determination and workrate are just incredible. She’d run through a brick wall for you.”
McLauchlan is just 19 while Arnot turned 21 last week. She came on as a late substitute in most of her previous ten Scotland appearances, but with Bayern Munich’s Evans was a major factor in the Austria win thanks to their tireless defending and attacking down the flanks.
“We exposed Austria in the wide areas and Lizzie did against them what she does week in, week out at club level,” Murray said. “It was nice to see her reproduce that on the international stage.”
All four could feature again today against Wales in Paralimni as Anna Signeul has big injury concerns ahead of the game.
Kim Little and central defender Jen Beattie are likely to miss out again because of niggles – and in total six first-team regulars are doubtful for the game in Paralimni.
“I’m assuming there will be changes against Wales, but ones which won’t weaken the team at all,” Murray said, “Nowadays you’re replacing quality players with other quality players. Anna has been very vocal about using the players available in the squad and quite rightly so.”
Scotland won two and lost one of their three group games and today take on Wales in the fifth and sixth placing game of the 12-team tournament.
The Welsh, who have an outstanding midfielder in Little’s former Seattle Reign team-mate Jess Fishlock, haven’t beaten Scotland in five attempts since Signeul became head coach.