Evans enjoying fresh outlook ahead of New Zealand test

Women’s International Challenge Matches
Scotland v New Zealand
Pinatar Football Arena, San Pedro del Pinatar
Saturday, 3 March 2018, 4pm (UK time)
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Over the last decade Scotland’s women would usually be competing in the Cyprus Cup in March, but this year, Shelley Kerr has opted for a change of scenery.

Based in Pinatar for the week, the Scotland squad are preparing for two matches in the sun, against New Zealand to aid their World Cup qualifying ambitions with the team set to play Switzerland and Poland in April.

Winger Lisa Evans has been a mainstay in the Scotland squad since her debut in 2011 and has come a long way since first pulling on the dark blue jersey.

Having played in Scotland and Germany, Evans now resides in London, playing for Arsenal alongside Scotland teammates Kim Little and Emma Mitchell.

Deployed usually as a winger, Evans has been utilised as a right back for Arsenal but it is a role she’s enjoying and has helped continue to broaden her horizons.

She said: “I’ve pretty much played right-back all season which has been a change but it’s been something I’ve talked a lot with the Arsenal head coach about and I’ve really enjoyed it as I’ve been playing every week.

“I’d never played there apart from a game with one of the Scotland youth squads a while ago when Pauline Hamill said I’d make a decent right back.

“Now I’m back with Scotland I’ll probably be playing more in my natural position which is great and I’ve loved training this week, focusing on the attack and being close to the goal.”

With a new manager in place at Arsenal, they have high hopes this season with a Continental Cup Final on the horizon along with ambitions of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Since joining the club Evans has enjoyed playing with Emma Mitchell and Kim Little domestically and is delighted to see Little return from her injury.

She said: “I’m loving it at Arsenal and the new coach Joe Montemurro has made such a difference. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve had and we can only go forward with him.

“Having Kim (Little) down there is great as she’s such a role model and playing with Emma (Mitchell) is a amazing as she’s one of my best friends.

“Kim has come back well from her ACL injury and has recently played two games which has given everyone such huge boost.

“She’s looking the business in training and we’re all buzzing to have her back. To have her playing alongside you makes such a difference.”

As well as being around some familiar faces, the 25-year-old has also come across some of the superstars of the men’s game and been impressed by their knowledge of the women’s game.

“We see some of the men’s players in the gym like Jack Wilshere. Petr Cech is a lovely guy and always chats to us about the games as well as Laurent Koscielny,” she said.

“It’s unreal when players like that come over and show an interest but I think that probably shows how much the women’s game has grown, when these guys are paying an interest and following us on social media etc.”

Team News

Scotland Captain Rachel Corsie has returned from injury and is joined by uncapped duo Abbi Grant and Zoe Ness.

The two strikers have impressed for Glasgow City and Durham respectively and  both been capped at youth level.

Lucy Graham also returns to the squad with Lana Clelland missing out through injury and Rachael Small is not included following the news that she is pregnant and expecting a baby.

What to expect from New Zealand

Ranked 19th in the world, newly appointed head coach Andreas Heraf will take charge of his first ’Ferns’ matches in Pinatar against Scotland.

Aiming to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in France in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, New Zealand were last in action in November when they played Thailand twice, beating them 5-0 and drawing 0-0.

The 5-0 victory was the biggest win over opposition outside of Oceania by a New Zealand team since 1993.