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Interview with Lucy O’Brien

Lucy joined the Ipswich Town Academy last summer with a handful of other youngsters looking to kick on with their development and hoping to forge their career in the women’s game. It’s been a stop/start season for the young academy players with Covid stopping their season. We are now in April and the academy side have only played 3 league fixtures all season.

While all other football was stopped, the academy fell under Elite Sport as they play in the WSL academy leagues, so they could continue to train. This has no doubt really helped the younger players, Lucy being one of them. She recently made her first team debut in the FA Cup visit to Billericay and also scored 4 goals against Brantham in the Suffolk Cup.

We caught up with the young Midfielder and took a look at her season so far.

What team do you support?

Tottenham!

Which footballer, men’s or women’s, would you love to play alongside?

Harry Kane or Kevin De Bruyne

Who inspires you?

I get most inspiration from my team mates – seeing them work had everyday and seeing the success they earn from it motivates me to constantly be better.

3 songs from your playlist?

I have a very random music taste: She’s casual – The Hunna, Don’t Stop me now – Queen, Glorious – Macklemore

Do you have any pre match rituals?

Not really, but I always try to have a good warm up to get myself ready. Scoring some goals in the warm up is always good too.

It’s been a strange first season at the club with the stop and starts, how have you found it so far?

It’s been really good so far! The standard is so high both in training and games which is a great challenge. It’s been hard to find motivation at times without competitive fixtures but we all helped push each other to keep going and the hard work we’ve put in is now showing in the games we are playing.

You were involved early on playing in some pre season games with the senior side, did that help with bedding into the squad having them early games?

Definitely, it was great to get some experience playing with them early on. Everyone was so welcoming that I had no issues settling in and felt a part of the squad straight away.

Did you know any of the players here before joining?

Yep I knew Zoe Barratt as she goes to my school and we played together at MK Dons. I also knew Molly Sutherland from when we played together at Cambridgeshire ACC and there were some familiar faces within the team who had been to the same regional camps as me in the past.

Some fans have tipped you as the ‘one to watch’ from the academy team recently with your current form. What do you consider to be your strengths?

I have always had an eye for goal, and historically have had a good track record with getting on the scoresheet. I also think I am creative in midfield and find good pockets on the pitch which I then exploit to provide goal scoring opportunities for myself or my teammates.

You recently made your first team debut, how did you feel getting the news you were being called up?

I was really excited! I knew that due to the seniors only just coming back to train, I had a good chance of getting some game time so I was really pleased when I was given the opportunity.

Were you nervous leading up to the game and on game day?

Yes I was – though I always feel nerves before a game! But as soon as the game started, the nerves went and I focused on the football.

We didn’t get the result we wanted at Billericay, but were you happy with your performance personally on your debut?

I was gutted with the result but personally I think I held my own in the midfield. I think I created some good chances but when you lose, you always feel like you could have done more.

What positives did you take away from the game?

It was a great experience and one that I have learnt a lot from. Playing against senior women gave me a proper insight into the physical demands of the senior game. Also, coping with losing such an important match is something that I’m sure will help me in the future.

Now you have made your debut, is the next step to cement your place in Joe’s plans?

Yes definitely, for me this year is all about developing my game and performing as well as I can for the U21’s. However, of course I am going to be striving to play for the seniors as much as I can.

Charlie Baxter has recently joined the club as the new assistant. How have you found him so far?

Charlie is a great coach and has a wealth of experience to bring to our squad. It’s been really good to have his input and I’m sure we’ll all learn a lot from him.

Charlie brings lots of experience with him, which should really help the players grown as-well?

Yep, I think his knowledge of the game is something we can really use to help us develop not only as a team, but also individually.

You seem to enjoy scoring goals from midfield, is this something fans can look forward to as you progress towards more first team games?

Yep, hopefully. I used to play as a striker up until a few seasons ago, so naturally I am always looking to score. It’s a bit more difficult from midfield, but I feel I still have that goal scorers instinct and it is a great feeling to get on the scoresheet.

You have been part of England squads previously, how have you found your experiences playing for the national team?

I always really enjoy every camp I go on and learn so much. It’s an amazing feeling to represent your country and I’ve had moments that I won’t ever forget!

The club has some really good players in your position. Is that extra motivation to keep developing to pressure those ahead of you?

Yes, definitely. There are some unbelievable players in both the U21 and senior squad so there’s always really good competition. It definitely drives us all to work harder as we know that none of us can afford to get complacent.

Now you have your debut under your belt, is it about keeping form and hopefully keeping getting them call ups?

Yep, it was great to make my debut and now I’m excited for the year ahead. I’m going to focus on working hard and playing as well as I can so I can leave Joe with a decision to make!

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