The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying campaign begins for Cymru next month as Gemma Grainger's side take on Kazakhstan and Estonia in her first competitive fixtures since her appointment in March.
2023 FIFA Women's World Cup
Cymru v Estonia
- Friday 17 September 19:15
- Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Following the recent friendly internationals against Canada, Denmark and Scotland in preparation for the next qualifying campaign, a number of the Cymru squad have also been adjusting to change in their respective club careers after a busy summer of transfers. Here's a round-up of some of the key moves involving the Cymru squad.
One of the biggest moves of the summer saw midfielder Angharad James swap Reading for North Carolina Courage. The 27-year old has proven herself to be one of the most-consistent performers for her country over the course of the last decade. Initially announcing the move earlier in the year, James headed to the United States at the end of the last WSL season and made her debut in a 2-0 win over Louisville in June, impressing coach Paul Riley in the process with her range of passing and work rate.
“It was a shock,” explained James to BBC Sport back in March as she reflected on the call from her agent confirming their interest. “It's something I have always dreamed of, from being a little girl, to play in America. With it being North Carolina, who have won two out of the last three titles over there, I couldn't turn it down. The facilities, the professionalism, the style of play suits how I play. The fact that I could go and potentially be a part of a team that is successful was something that really made me take the plunge and go for the move.”
James is the only Cymru star who has made the move abroad during the summer, but there have been plenty of other transfers taking place, with Charlton Athletic Women starting a new professional era at the club with the arrival of a trio of Cymru internationals ahead of the new FA Women's Championship season. Manager Karen Hills has brought in Anna Filbey, Megan Wynne and the versatile Elise Hughes, having previously worked with Filbey and Wynne during her time at Tottenham Hotspur.
Gemma Evans completed her move from Bristol City to Reading last month to join Cymru team-mates Natasha Harding, Bethan Roberts, Lily Woodham and Rachel Rowe at the club. “I’m delighted to bring Gemma to Reading,” said manager Kelly Chambers about the 24-year old. “She is a player that I feel will really suit out style of play. She has shown great development over the last couple of seasons and more importantly she is a consistent performer. I am excited to get started and work with Gemma.”
Former Cymru assistant manager Lauren Smith was recently appointed manager of Bristol City as the club look to return to the WSL, and Smith has brought in Cymru duo Ffion Morgan and Ella Powell. “I think the club is in a great place although relegation happened last year,” said Smith to the club's official website. “There has been some great investment in the stadium and the Robins High Performance Centre and the vision is really exciting, which was discussed in the talks in me coming back here. I’m really excited for the challenge and getting back to home soil."
Meanwhile, Charlie Estcourt has completed her move from London Bees to Coventry United where she will join-up with Cymru goalkeeper Olivia Clark, and teenage striker Maria Francis-Jones has made the switch from Cardiff City Ladies to Manchester City's Academy where former Cymru manager Jayne Ludlow is the current Technical Director.