Attacker Lauren James has penned a first-pro-deal with Manchester United Women after bagging 24 strikes in 39 outings for the Red Devils — a goal glut that helped Casey Stoney’s side gain promotion to the Women’s Super League.
England U19 ace James, who was previously with Arsenal, switched to United last summer but has waited until now to sign a professional contract. The 18-year-old forward — who has hit seven goals in 11 appearances in all competitions so far in this campaign — cites the forward-looking approach of the club as one of the main reasons behind her committing her future. She added:
“This club has big ambitions and I’m excited to be a part of that and I hope I can continue my development here for years to come.”
United boss Stoney says goal-getter James, who is the younger sister of Chelsea defender Reece James, is an exceptional talent with a bright future ahead of her, adding:
“She is so technically gifted, one of the most gifted players I have worked with.”
Fans are excited that James has committed her fixture to the United cause. Sandra Heath, a keen supporter of the side, says the hot prospect is only going to get better. She said:
“She has innate ability, not to0 much raw talent because it is anything but raw, but just that natural gift that all potentially great players possess. At the minute, United aren’t where they should be in the great scheme of women’s football, and even as a die-hard United fan I don’t think that anyone can argue with that at all.
“But, having said that, capturing Lauren for the future — although we don’t know quite how long for as the length of the deal hasn’t been disclosed — augurs very well for the club and makes a big statement about exactly where the club sees itself in the future. One way or another these are exciting times for United — and for women’s football in general.”
Meanwhile, the draw for the Continental Tyres League Cup has kept alive the potential for a showdown between the game’s top guns. Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and rivals Manchester United have all been kept apart in the quarter-final meetings and it means there is every chance that the final will become somewhat of a showpiece occasion.
Emma Hayes, manager of Chelsea Women, saw the Blues earn the reward from topping Group D (along with Reading, West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur, Lewes and Crystal Palace) with a home game against Aston Villa. The match will take place at Kingsmeadow – home of AFC Wimbledon — in the middle of January.
Elsewhere, league leaders Arsenal will take on Reading, Sheffield United host Manchester City and Manchester United will be at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.