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Wales’ Gemma Grainger Issues Defiant Defence Of Nations League Campaign


By Hannah Blackwell

Gemma Grainger insists she is not worried by Wales’ struggles among the elite of international women’s football.

As Grainger’s team prepare to face Denmark on Tuesday evening, their manager has given a robust defence of her record in charge and argued her critics are underestimating the step up in class her players are grappling with.

Wales are in Viborg for the fourth match of their UEFA Nations League campaign, having lost all three of their matches so far to Iceland, Germany and the Danes with 11 goals conceded.

In contrast, Denmark are top of Group A3, with three victories, having scored eight and conceded just once – meaning most predictions are for another heavy defeat for Grainger’s team.

But the former England U17 manager – who is midway through a four-year contract with the FAW – believes some context has been missing around the debate over recent poor results.

“We could be in League B of the Nations League, coming off back-to-back victories and everyone telling me the team are in a great place,” she said.

“We have to look at what the end goal is and trust in the process. I’m not concerned at all.

Former Wales goalkeeper Jo Price recently called for Grainger to go and former midfielder Katie Sherwood also voiced criticism of the manager’s methods.

Grainger’s side have lost four matches in succession and have won just one of their past eight but she insists that progress is being made, despite the heavy scorelines.

“For me it comes down to realism and perspective. The gap between us and the first and second seeded nations is significant, for us we want to compete but I think we have that realism and perspective that this is our first time [at this level].

“We’ve earned the right to be in league A, we want to be here and take lessons from it, but we have to be realistic.

“If you look at the results against Denmark and Germany, rather than the performances, then I think that is where most of the opinions are coming from.

“We are playing at this level for the first time. We know we can compete with any seed three teams, but these seed one or two teams are at a different level.

“We don’t want to be a team that sits in and loses 1-0 and doesn’t get close to winning. That isn’t going to help us to qualify for a major tournament, which is our aim.

“But I don’t mind people having an opinion. But I think it should be on the performance, not the result.

“The gap between the top seeded teams in women’s football and the rest is massive.”

Wales were hammered 5-1 by Germany last week and it could well have been double that scoreline had their opponents’ finishing not been so lax.

Wales forwards Ceri Holland and Hannah Cain have both pulled out of the squad through injury, but the Danes are also without their superstar forward Pernille Harder, who scored a hat-trick in the Danes’ 5-1 win in Cardiff.


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