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Women's Football News
Loren Dykes insists that Wales are firmly in the hunt for second place in their UEFA Women's Championship qualifying group.
Wales moved into third following their 2-0 win away to Israel on Sunday and the 23-year-old told Women's Soccer Scene: "We believe that second place is reachable and that's what we are aiming for.
"Performances have been very good and, if being honest, we should have picked up more points than we have but that win has given us all a lot of confidence. We have a very good bunch of players and team spirit is brilliant."
The win was Wales' first of their campaign and Loren says that there is more to come. "We deserved to win the game but didn't play particularly well," she admitted. "We could have won by more, we started the game poorly but Helen Lander scored a great goal from a Helen Bleazard free kick quite early on and from then on we were in control of the game. We were unable to put it to bed until a brilliant Sophie Ingle header late on.
"Although not one of our better performances, we showed that we can win games when not playing well and it was an important three points for us. It was very satisfying to keep a clean sheet, especially away from home, we can take confidence from this. We defended well as a team and everyone put in their share of hard work."
Wales were benefitted by scoring early on for the third match in a row, to add to strikes against France and Scotland. "Good starts are pleasing," said Loren. "A few years ago we used to be on the receiving end. Confidence is high in the squad regardless but that helps to settle the nerves and does give us a little confidence boost."
Loren reserved special praise for teenage debutant Hayley Ladd, who stepped in for the more experienced Jessica Fishlock who was out through suspension. "Hayley is a top young talent," she said, "she has a lot of potential and looked more and more comfortable and confident as the game went on. As full debuts go, she should be very proud of her performance. Her attitude is first class, she wants to learn and absorb everything and has a long career ahead of her if she carries on the way she is going.
"I think everyone played well, it was a real team effort and everybody played their part. Helen and Sophie took their goals brilliantly, Hayley for her first game, Helen Bleazard worked hard and created a lot. Rhian Nokes was commanding in goal and her distribution was good while Angharad [James] and Hannah [Keryakoplis] came on and gained more experience too."
After playing nearly all of her career either up front or on the wing, Loren has recently been converted to the right back position and she has settled in very smoothy. She admits the change of position came as a complete surprise. "It isn't something I had given a lot of thought before but I was more than happy to take on the challenge," she revealed. "Though defending is my main responsibility, I've also been given a licence to go forward and create, which I enjoy doing. Kath Morgan, our assistant manager, used to play there so she has helped me a lot and I am continuing to learn as much as I can both on and off the field.
"Playing with the likes of Kylie [Davies] and now Jayne [Ludlow] at the back, with their experience and knowledge of the game they have created a really good partnership and they communicate well with me, which makes it easier."
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