Scotland women set to hand Zoe Ness debut in Sweden friendly

SCOTLAND coach Anna Signeul could give teenage striker Zoe Ness an international debut off the bench when her side play Sweden in a friendly in Gothenburg this evening.

The 19-year-old, who was brought up in Durham to Scottish parents, has been a prolific scorer at youth level. She joined the Swedish club Mallbackens last year, scoring three goals in their final five league games to help them avoid relegation.

Comparisons with Julie Fleeting might prove onerous for any young player, but according to Signeul the two have similar playing styles and physique. Fleeting still hopes to shake off a recurring calf problem to add to her phenomenal 116 goals in 121 internationals, but tonight might provide an opportunity for a player who scored 30 in just 37 under-17 and under-19 games.

"Zoe is a good player – and very much like Julie," Signeul said. "She's a target player with very good technique, and is a good header of the ball who also links-up play well.

"She adds a dimension we don't have – which is why we have been very keen to get Julie back in the squad."

Jane Ross, whose own scoring record is not too shabby with 42 in 89 games, is the preferred striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Now with Manchester City, she is one of four Scotland players to have moved club during the current women's close season.

Former Hibs player Caroline Weir has moved from Bristol City to Liverpool, while goalkeeper and captain Gemma Fay has switched from Celtic to Glasgow City. The latest development was at the weekend when Hibs' defender Chloe Arthur signed for Bristol.

Scotland have never beaten Sweden, who are ranked eighth in the world, and their chances of doing so tonight have been seriously hampered by the absence of star player Kim Little and central defender Jenny Beattie.

Both scored from the spot as the club with whom they are on loan, Melbourne City, beat Brisbane Roar in a W-League semi-final penalty shoot-out on Sunday night. They now face Sydney in the championship final this weekend.


Tonight's match, although being played indoors at the brand new Prioritet Serneke Arena because of the sub-zero temperatures in Gothenburg, is an official friendly being played in an international window. Nevertheless, Signeul had already agreed to give Little dispensation and extended that to Beattie when Melbourne City made the championship play-offs.

Replacing Beattie, who would have won her 100th cap, is the easier task for Signeul as Rachel Corsie, who plays in central defence for her club, Seattle Reign, will move back from her holding midfield role. There is no obvious No 10 to come in for Little other than former Glasgow City and Bristol striker Christie Murray, who is currently without a club.

Sweden are using the game as preparation for their own four team play-off at the beginning of March to decide who gets the third European place at the Rio Olympics. They will face the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland in Rotterdam.



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