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Duo on player of the month nominations

12 September 2019

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Sheffield United duo Katie Wilkinson and Veatriki Sarri have been nominated for August's FA Women's Championship player of the month after impressive performances from both in the team's opening games of the season.

Wilkinson scored her first goal for the club on opening weekend against Aston Villa before scoring two in quick succession against Leicester City before going off with a knock.

Sarri was one of the Blades' liveliest players in the defeat to Villa and followed that up with a superb performance against Leicester, playing a stunning cross-field pass for Aimee Palmer's debut goal and scoring herself from the penalty spot before half-time.

They sit alongside Villa's Mel Johnson and Durham's Sarah Robson and both are delighted to be recognised for their performances just a month into the new season.

"As a team it's great with Vea being nominated as well," said vice-captain Wilkinson. "We had a good pre-season, we've played well in both games so far. We were unlucky not to get the result at Villa but we've got players in the team playing well and it's nice to be recognised for that."

Greece international Sarri also reiterated it was a team effort that has contributed to her individual success so far this season.

"It feels amazing to be nominated, but I have to say I wouldn't be here without the girls," she said. "I've settled in now, I know the girls better, I know what the manager wants from me and I feel more comfortable out on the pitch.

"Coming from an ACL injury isn't easy but I feel ready at the moment, I'm probably in the best shape I've been in so it's exciting where it can take me and where it can take the team."

Wilkinson's feat is all the more impressive given she had to be withdrawn before the end of the first half against Leicester, meaning all three of her goals have come in less than a game and a half into her Blades career.

"It was disappointing to have to come off because I think I would have added a couple more, but three goals in just about one and a half games is a good tally and I'm planning on adding to that, hopefully I can do that this month as well!

Sarri meanwhile has played 90 minutes in both league games so far and has shown her versatility by the fact she's already played in three different positions.

The 21-year-old started in an attacking midfield role against Villa before moving out wide later on in the game and started at left-back against Leicester a week later.

"I just love football, I just want to play so if the coaches need me to play left-back or right wing or up front, I'll do it and I'll try my best to do it. I'm more of an attacking player but I just want to play because I just love playing football."

With players like Sarri at the club, Wilkinson isn't short of options when it comes to players who will provide her with goal scoring opportunities.

The Blades number nine is already familiar in playing with the likes of Olivia Fergusson and Maddy Cusack and has already struck up with a good partnership with the likes of Sarri and Keri Matthews, and it was right-back Ellie Fletcher who provided the assist for her opener against Leicester.

"The positive with this team is you've got quality players all over the pitch," she said. "In pre-season, we played a lot of games together, you get used to playing with your team mates. Having the kind of players on the pitch with that quality, people to assist you and to give you the ball helps a lot and if that keeps happening hopefully I'll only score more goals.

"It's been a real team effort. Leandra [Little] and Naomi [Hartley] at the back have been quality, the Villa game was hard to take for the whole squad but the reaction was good and going forward I think there will be a lot more players in the running for player of the month."

Frustratingly, the Blades have been only spectators as the league got back under way last weekend after the international break, but they return to action after a three-week break away at newly-promoted Blackburn Rovers this Sunday.

Gemma Donnelly's side have improved in performances as they bed into their new league and both Wilkinson and Sarri are ready to get back down to business this weekend.

"It gets hard when there's big breaks but we're ready now," said Sarri. "I think the players are ready, the staff are ready and we're training hard for Sunday's game."

Wilkinson added, "It's been really frustrating because you want to keep that momentum up but fair play to the girls who have gone away, they've had a lot of game time with their countries and that's good for them.

"It's important for them to get that experience but now we're all back we can get cracking and hopefully get the three points against Blackburn."

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