Chelsea FC Women are immersed in a rigorous and carefully charted training regime this week ahead of the weekend’s important Women’s FA Cup quarter-final away game at Liverpool.
And they no longer have the Mighty Atom Crystal Dunn to call on, for lightning pace down the left wing.
The striker is joining North Carolina Courage after a year with the Blues, returning to her native USA.
She arrived at Chelsea from Washington Spirit, and was an important part of the Ladies team which won last season’s WSL Spring Series.
As left wing-back, her sprints down the touchline was wonderful to behold, and the diminutive 25-year-old was popular with fans and colleagues in the dressing room. “The opportunity to return to the USA felt like the right decision for both personal and footballing reasons at this stage of my career,” she exlained, thanking manager Emma Hayes and her team-mates. “I’ll always have a place in my heart for Chelsea FC.”
The match on Sunday March 18 kicks off at 2pm at a changed venue, Volair Park in Prescot, Merseyside. It almost overlaps with Chelsea’s trip to Leicester in the FA Cup.
Meanwhile defender Deanna Cooper has signed a two-year contract extension with Chelsea FC Women, despite still recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament op last summer. The 24-year-old centre-half impressed last season, and she said she was “Over the moon” that would still be playing a part in the club.
In the end, England Women had to settle for runners-up spot in the SheBelieves Cup in the States after a 1-0 defeat by the USA – a match Chelsea duo Fran Kirby and Millie Bright started… and which was settled by a move started, almost inevitably, by Crystal Dunn.
Her pass led to a deflected cross, sparking a mix-up with defender Millie Bright which produced an own goal.
There was more bad news. Defender Anita Asante, recently back in the Chelsea FC Women side, was injured while playing for England in the SheBelieves Cup, and has undergone surgery on an anterior cruciate ligament injury in her knee.