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Ali Johnson speaks

5 September 2020

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Ali Johnson says it feels like she's never been away after returning to the club ahead of the 2020/21 FA Women's Championship season.

Johnson originally joined the club last summer from Bristol City and is now back for a second season as new head coach Neil Redfearn puts the final pieces of his squad together ahead of Sunday's opener away at London City Lionesses.

"It's been overwhelming," said Johnson. "The girls and the staff have been so welcoming and it's like I never left."

An injury-hit season left the 21-year-old making just seven first team appearances during the last campaign, but the full-back was just making her way back into contention with several substitute appearances when the season was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now back fit and fresh with a pre-season under her belt, Johnson is ready to put last season behind her ahead of the new campaign.

"I never really got going last season looking back. I'm a new player and new person all around now. I'll continue to move forward, knocking down barriers along the way as I've already showed in pre-season.

"Injury doesn't just affect you physically, but mentally too. I was chasing my own tail for quite some time and lockdown has provided me with time to work on myself. I've become a better person and player all around, no negativity, I'm feeling sharper and fitter than ever."

Johnson also has brief experience of working with the new Blades head coach shortly before she left Liverpool for Bristol City and is looking forward to working with the new boss on a more regular basis this season.

"I know how he works and he knows how I work, so if the opportunity arises I need to grab it with both hands as I've worked really hard over the time we had off, so I want that to do the talking."

Johnson's progress has been shown in the minutes she's played well training back with the team during pre-season.

After easing her way back to fitness, the former England youth team player has got through several lots of 90 minutes during the team's pre-season schedule and admits it's been an emotional time as she continues to work her way back into contention.

"It really means a lot. After the final whistle I've almost felt upset, even though we performed well, but for my own reasons of mixed emotions. It's been a very long time coming, I just love this sport and it's all I've ever known.

"In the past, my fitness was always in question. Now I'm raring to go and push on to show what I am more than capable of."

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