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Rachel Corsie: Why there is positive buzz around Scotland Women ahead of Nations League debut

In this week's column, Rachel discusses the Uefa Nations League and the squad that will contest the opening fixtures of the inaugural competition.

Scotland Women lineup ahead of a World Cup qualifying match at Hampden
Scotland Women will next meet up for the inaugural Nations League campaign. Image: Shutterstock.

There is a positive feeling around Scotland Women’s National Team ahead of our inaugural Uefa Nations League campaign.

It is a brand new competition, so there is an element of freshness to it, and it’s something I know a lot of the players are looking forward to.

The 23-player squad for the opening games against England – at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland next Friday – and the home clash with Belgium on September 26 was announced on Thursday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, it was also announced the SWNT have withdrawn our legal claim against the Scottish FA, with satisfactory progress made over our demands for equality without the need for tribunal proceedings.

I am glad that we have been able to find a resolution, and have avoided a tribunal. The legal route is one that nobody wanted to undertake, but positive discussions have taken place during the intervening period with mutual respect, understanding and cooperation.

As captain, I believe we have a responsibility to push for the highest standards on and off the field. The SFA have made significant inroads in this regard and together we are on an evolutionary journey.

We are proud to have parity, not just for the current generation, but, more significantly, for future generations of players.

The Nations League game against England is set to be an exciting contest. Even though the men didn’t get the result in their friendly fixture this week, it showed the magnitude of the rivalry.

Our aim for the Nations League campaign is to perform to the best of our ability and to retain our pot A place.

The Netherlands, who we play in October’s international window, complete our group, and, like England – who host us in their first game since the World Cup final – the Dutch have performed well in recent major tournaments.

Ella Toone in action for England during the 2023 World Cup final against Spain
Ella Toone in action for England during the 2023 World Cup final. Image: Shutterstock.

But these are the challenges we relish. We will go into each game wanting to get something out of it, and there is the belief in the squad that we can do that.

The Hampden clash with Belgium is the one where we might feel a bit of added pressure because they are the team closest to us in the rankings, so we will be aiming to make the home advantage count.

Erin Cuthbert a big miss, but SWPL players’ inclusion a positive for domestic game

The most notable omission from Pedro Martinez Losa’s 23-player Scotland squad was Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert, who misses out due to injury.

Erin has been in terrific form for both club and country over the last 18 months, so will be a big miss.

But her absence presents an opportunity for somebody else to step up in that position.

Celtic attacker Amy Gallacher has been rewarded for her club form, where she has scored nine goals in six games, by being called up to the senior Scotland squad for the first time.

Her inclusion in the squad reflects Pedro’s willingness to give an opportunity to new players if they are performing well at club level, and it should provide motivation for domestic players.

Erin Cuthbert in action for Scotland. Image: Scottish FA.

There are certainly eyes on the SWPL every week, so those players know they have the opportunity to earn themselves a shot.

There are eight SWPL players named in this squad and that’s what we want – we want domestic players to be involved to help move the Scottish game forward.

Aberdeen Women’s defeat to Hibs not a disaster

Aberdeen Women suffered a heavy 5-0 defeat to Hibernian on Wednesday night, which is not a disaster, but should act as a warning sign.

It has been a positive start to the SWPL season, as the Dons sit in fifth with four wins from seven.

The defeat at Meadowbank will have been tough to take, as Aberdeen were well in the game until around an hour, but it should act as a reminder that they cannot take their foot of the gas.

It’s important the Aberdeen players remember it is early to the season and a positive start can’t lead to complacency, however there must be perspective in defeat and they can’t let the disappointment linger.

The loss also saw two key players, goalkeeper Faye Kirby and midfielder Laura Holden, come off injured which is unfortunate news for an already-light Dons squad.

Injuries are something you always have to contend with. From my experiences, there is normally at least one player carrying an injury in a squad every week.

Aberdeen don’t have the squad depth to risk being embroiled in an injury crisis, and for those players who are left fit – it puts a lot of pressure on them to perform at their best in the SWPL.

Aston Villa improving squad depth with new additions

I’m looking forward to working with Aston Villa‘s new additions Ebony Salmon and Adriana Leon.

Both forwards are great additions and will help improve our squad depth, which is what we were looking to do to build on the success of last season.

This has been a very good pre-season for Villa. We have established a good squad that has created a good understanding with one another on and off the pitch.

It has been a very enjoyable few weeks, which involved a training camp in Spain, and for me it has been one of the best pre-seasons I’ve had in my career. There has been a freshness about it and things feel like they are moving in the right direction.

The squad is good mix of young and experienced players, who are all bringing out the best in each other.