Blues' Academy breaking new ground

Blues have given teenagers 1,286 minutes in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League this season – the most of any side in the competition.

With WSL opportunities coming thick and fast, Blues' Academy prospects are delighted to be involved with the first team set-up as they continue their development. 

Defender Lily Simkin has shown maturity beyond her sixteen years and recently won Her Football Hub's Rising Star Award for her composed performances.

Freya Gregory, Laura Brown, Ella Powell, Kelcie Fallon and Gemma Lawley were all on the bench for the Conti Cup clash with Manchester United before Christmas. 

Brown and Powell were handed their debuts off the bench to cap off a successful first half of the season for the Academy.

Midfielder Gregory made her debut away at Brighton in the WSL and was pleased to do it in front of 4,000 people at the AMEX stadium. 

She said: “The atmosphere helped and made me want to work harder and want to perform in front of those people.

“Playing against Brighton at such a big stadium, in front of so many people was a great occasion and a great place to make my debut.” 

Gregory has enjoyed her time with the first team so far and feels she is transitioning well from the Academy. 

“I think technically all of us are up there with the first team players, on the ball,” stated Gregory. “Out of possession, the tempo is so much quicker, they move the ball quicker and the transitions are quicker.

“The players are bigger and stronger, and I think it will take a few games to adjust to that because the step from 16 to 21’s was fine.”

Brown still features for the U16’s and U21’S, as well as now featuring for the first team and is enjoying playing and training for a new team each week. 

She said: “Whenever there isn’t a match, I go to the team that has got a match because I get more minutes and can continue improving.

“It’s all different levels, at U16’s there is more of an opportunity to do what you want on the pitch, whereas first team is a lot more physical.”

Both Gregory and Brown hope to gain more opportunities with the first team in the second half of the season and build on the experience they already have. 

“We are 16, playing first team, you can’t get much better than that,” said Gregory. “Even if we are on the bench, it is still a good experience.”

See the Academy girls in action

Blues take on Manchester City this Sunday 19 January at the Stadium (12pm kick-off).