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Fran Kitching speaks

22 August 2020

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Goalkeeper Fran Kitching says returning to the club she started her career at as a 10-year-old is a "special feeling" after becoming the club's fifth signing of the summer.

Kitching spent several years in the club's academy before joining Chelsea in 2015, and now she's back as a first team player ready for the new FA Women's Championship campaign which kicks off in two weeks.

"It's really nice to be back. In some ways it feels like nothing has changed, but then it feels like everything's changed, it's a weird feeling. My dad is a huge Blade and I know from going to games with him it's a family club. I know this city, I grew up just outside and to come back to the club where I started is a really special feeling."

The 22-year-old has been without a club since leaving Liverpool at the end of last season and like anyone has been sat on the sidelines for longer than usual after last season was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the shot-stopper is now ready to get back down to business in the city she grew up just 10 miles outside of and says it's been a great feeling to be back training alongside her new team mates.

"It's just nice to be back on the training pitch and I've had a really good week with the team. It's been so long for anyone since we've been able to play football and I've really enjoyed being back out on the pitch again."

Kitching completes a competitive group of goalkeepers at the club alongside Becky Flaherty and Emily Batty, both of whom received first team opportunities during their debut seasons at the club.

With experience playing for the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool, Kitching will add extra competition and is looking forward to being part of the group.

"It's been really good so far. I know Becky from Liverpool and to be fair Tom [Pressman, goalkeeper coach] has been really good too at getting me up to speed as obviously I've been without a club since the end of last season. I think there's some really strong competition but I'm looking forward to it.

"I think I'd say brave, first and foremost. I do like to play out and have the ball at my feet, but I think I'm a good shot-stopper too. I'm very loud as well, I'm vocal and I think any goalkeeper wants to be able to be commanding."

The Blades kick off their season with what will be a first competitive match in over six months when they travel to London City Lionesses in two weeks, before a first home game of the season a week later at the Proact against Leicester City.

With both sides set to rival the Blades for promotion and a strong Liverpool side coming down from the FA WSL, Kitching expects one of the most competitive seasons the league has seen.

"I think even when I speak to some of my old coaches who work in the FA WSL, they all say the same about the Championship and how competitive it will be. I think you can feel the team want to go a step further than last season, everyone's really determined to do even better this season but we know the competition is going to be stronger than ever.

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