Chelsea Ladies trio deserve call-ups – Rafferty

Chelsea Ladies defender Claire Rafferty says England call-ups for club team-mates Hannah Blundell, Laura Coombs and Drew Spence are a fitting reward for the club’s Double-winning season.

The uncapped trio join Rafferty, Eni Aluko, Gemma Davison, Fran Kirby and Gilly Flaherty in a 21-strong squad for international friendly matches against China and Australia next week.

And Rafferty told West London Sport that having eight players in manager Mark Sampson’s travelling party for the international tournament was richly deserved following the Women’s Super League and FA Cup successes.

“Mark has rewarded players for a great season,” she said. “And I’m so pleased for Hannah, Laura and Drew.

“We have the best record in the league and they have played a big part for us this season. They have a great future and they deserve their opportunity. They are growing in confidence and this will lift them even more.”

Spence has been in excellent form this season
Spence has been in excellent form this season

Meanwhile, Chelsea’s domestic season could be extended even further if they can see off Glasgow City in the second leg of the Champions League round-of-32 tie on Wednesday.

The Blues are protecting a slender 1-0 first-leg advantage after the home match, but Rafferty feels Kirby’s winner could be all important.

“We played them away in pre-season [winning 2-0] so know it will be tough,” Rafferty said. “But we are favourites and the onus is on them now.

“We should probably have scored a few more goals but it was quite a weird first game because we are not used to Champions League football or playing two-legged matches. And it was strange getting up for the game having just won the league.

“That was such an historic moment for the club and then playing in the Champions League was a completely new experience too.

“The first leg was a bit frustrating because they ‘banked up’ against us and it was difficult to break down.

“But we learned a lot from the first game and they will have to come at us a bit more at some stage. Hopefully we can exploit that with the pace we have up front.”