Western Pride Women have found a silver lining to an enforced four-week break with striker Lani McKenna regaining fitness ahead of Saturday’s clash with Eastern Suburbs at Briggs Rd.
The young striker followed mentor Belinda Kitching to Pride in the summer but found her progress hampered by injury.
Kitching said McKenna trained well on Monday night and was looking forward to seeing her against Easts.
“I’ve coached Lani in Hervey Bay for a number of years,” Kitching said.
“She is young, very enthused and never gives up even if she makes a mistake.”
Kitching added the young striker was an important link which had been missing from Pride’s attack.
“We’ve been forced to put Georgina Adnum and Nakoya McLennan up front and they’ve done a good job but they know they are midfielders and will be happy back in their normal roles,” Kitching said.
“Lani is the type of player we’ve needed to feed in the final third.”
Pride are yet to score this season after two defeats to league runners’ up Souths and a Peninsula Power side bolstered by a number of experienced American imports.
Kitching said those sides set a benchmark her Pride team were aspiring to match over time.
“Both those sides have been building for the past two years,” Kitching said.
“We know that is the level where we want to be but we are only 10 weeks into the process.”
Pride has seen their progress interrupted after wet weekends, state trials and the Easter holidays restricted Pride to the training paddock since mid-March.
Kitching said her players were itching to get back onto the park after the long lay-off.
“We had a session on Monday night and they are keen to get under way,” Kitching said.
“The players have had a rest, are gaining confidence and are excited to test themselves against Easts.”
Kitching expected the visitors to play to a similar level to Souths and Peninsula Power.
“Easts has been competitive for a very long time and I can remember playing tough derbies against them when I was at Coalstars,” Kitching said.
“It’s now up to the players to believe in our system and believe in themselves.”
One player who will not be involved against Easts is defender Alicia Cole who has departed Pride for Ipswich City Bulls due to increased work commitments.
WORDS: Garry McKenzie
PHOTO: Chris Simpson
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