Fran Kirby is determined to make the most of her time in the England squad

Fran Kirby is determined to make the most of her time in the England squad as she looks to cement her place in the squad for next summer’s home European Championship.

Kirby has been in and out of the Lionesses lineup in recent years due to a combination of illness and injury. In November 2019, Kirby was diagnosed with pericarditis, a rare condition caused by fluid and inflammation of the sac that protects the heart.

She was unable to walk due to the illness and was out of action for eight months and the 28-year-old was close to taking early retirement.

Fran Kirby (above) is determined to make the most of her time in the England squad as she looks to cement her place in the squad for next summer’s home European Championship

The Chelsea forward returned to the game at the start of last season and enjoyed one of her best campaigns, scoring 16 goals and providing 11 assists as the Blues won the WSL title, Conti Cup and reached the Champions League final.

But while Kirby flew at club level, she had a frustrating time with England, as injuries pushed her from different camps.

But with new boss Sarina Wiegman now at the helm, Kirby is fully fit and eager to get a side run before next summer.

“It’s very important (to play),” Kirby said. “Last year I got my first injury while I was away with England so it was quite difficult because I really felt like I was playing at the club and I wanted to be here and play well.

“I played an in-house game and I really enjoyed it and then of course got the injury, which was disappointing and then you fight to try and come back faster.

Kirby (left) has been in and out of the Lionesses lineup in recent years due to a combination of illness and injury

Kirby (left) has been in and out of the Lionesses lineup in recent years due to a combination of illness and injury

The Chelsea forward returned to the game at the start of last season and enjoyed one of her best campaigns, scoring 16 goals and providing 11 assists as the Blues won the WSL title

“I’m feeling good at the moment so I want to make sure I keep building in this team and learning from Sarina and what she wants and to get into this group. I think it’s good at the moment, the group is in a good place. It’s probably one of the best places I’ve been in this group in a long time. Everyone is just ready to go.

“We have had some good wins in recent camps, but we know that this camp and the match in Austria will be a little more challenging. I think it will show us a different side, hopefully we can meet that challenge.”

“Not when I was sick. But when I started coming back, training and I started doing things again, it wasn’t that I believed I could do it, it was that I was trying to force myself, I was just telling myself every day “do what you can and see what happens”.

“I had no expectations to achieve what I did last year and I’m taking that to this year, it was more about taking every game as it comes. That has also taught me a lot this year, I don’t get carried away by anything, I just take every game, every training session. I don’t think I would have believed it at first, but when I was training I thought I could really go for it and keep going.”

Kirby admitted she is now putting more emphasis on rest and recovery, especially with the hectic schedule Chelsea are playing in the Champions League group stage for the first time.

With new manager Sarina Wiegman (above) now at the helm, Kirby is fully fit and eager to score a point before next summer

With new manager Sarina Wiegman (above) now at the helm, Kirby is fully fit and eager to score a point before next summer

Kirby is now putting more emphasis on rest and recovery, especially with the hectic schedule Chelsea are playing in the Champions League group stage for the first time

Kirby is now putting more emphasis on rest and recovery, especially with the hectic schedule Chelsea are playing in the Champions League group stage for the first time

“I’m in the pool every day, I do ice baths every day after training, I go to a gym late at night to recover extra. It’s just 24/7 constantly thinking how to prepare my body to go over and over again.

“We’ve had a tough schedule over the past few weeks and we’ve traveled a lot, a lot of difficult games, so it’s hard to manage yourself in that capacity. It’s not easy, you get niggles, you get little things that might keep you out. But it’s understanding when you need an extra day just to let yourself, your body recover and then go again, because it’s intense what we do.

“I think I used to worry so much about doing the same as everyone else, always always comparing, ‘she’s on the training pitch, so I have to go on the training pitch today’. And then I would eventually just collapse.

“It was just to understand and understand what is most important to me right now? Is it to go out and hit 20 balls in the back of the net? Is it to maybe take extra time to do some foam rolling or get a massage? So it’s just learning those differences.’

England will face Austria on Saturday in what will be the toughest game they have played in their World Cup qualifiers to date. The Lionesses have won their last four games with an aggregate score of 32-0, but this should prove to be a closer encounter.

‘It’s exciting for us. The level of opposition we have played has not tested us as much as we would have liked.

“It’s great for us that we’re scoring goals and not conceding any, but you want to be challenged, you want to see where you stand when it comes to playing against better opponents.”

.