Chelsea forward Kirby vows to get even better ahead of Olympics

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Fran Kirby Chelsea Women F365

Fran Kirby has emphasised her desire to get even better as she prepares for the Tokyo Olympics following a superb season with Chelsea.

The forward is part of Hege Riise’s 18-player Great Britain squad for this summer’s delayed Games that was announced on Thursday.

That is after a 2020-21 in which Kirby’s form for Chelsea led to her being named Football Writers’ Association player of the year and Women’s Super League player of the season.

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The 27-year-old scored 16 goals and provided 11 assists in the Blues’ triumphant WSL campaign, netted six times as they reached the Champions League final and also helped them win the League Cup.

Kirby, who the previous season was out of action from November 2019 onwards having been diagnosed with pericarditis, told a press conference on Thursday: “I think for sure I didn’t have any expectations of getting selected for the Olympics if they had been last year (as originally scheduled) because of the situation I was in.

“I knew that at the time, I probably wouldn’t have been ready. But as the year went on, I started to get those ambitions again.

“I didn’t start the year with the ambition of getting selected for the Olympics, it wasn’t really part of my thought process, I just wanted to get back playing, but I think as the year went on, I was like, ‘OK, I can really give this a shot and try and get selected for the team’.

“So yeah, obviously, I’m really happy with how it all worked out.

“I’m really excited to go and feel like I’m in a good place going into the games and hopefully I can take my Chelsea form into Team GB.”

The England international added: “I can’t rest on my laurels and think ‘OK, I came back and I played well’, I have to continue to raise the level.

“I’m not at a place where I’m just happy with how it’s gone. I want to push on and keep building and keep getting better in different scenarios.

“I know that there’s still a lot that I need to work on in my game, I’m not satisfied with how everything has gone this year, there’s still things that I know that I want to be better at.

“I think for me, that is more now my focus, rather than thinking ‘OK, that was great’.

“That’s in the past now, that’s something that’s happened, and I need to make sure that I’m in the present and now I’m ready to go for this Olympics.”

While Kirby is readying herself for her first Olympics, there are five players in the squad for whom it will be a second, having previously been involved in London 2012.

Among them is England captain Steph Houghton, who sat out the final 11 games of Manchester City’s season, and two Lionesses games, due to an Achilles injury.

Houghton said on Thursday: “It’s not been ideal preparation, for me to be missing just over a month and a half worth of games is unlike me. I’m 100 per cent fit, I’ve been training over the last few weeks, I feel confident in my body and I just can’t wait to start training with the rest of the girls.”

The 33-year-old defender added: “Being a part of London 2012 and experiencing what the Olympic Games is like, I was so desperate to get selected for this one. We’re so proud to be able to represent Team GB. Everybody is so excited to get to Tokyo and for the team to go and do something special.”