Women's Team

Hemp: I'm playing with freedom

YOUNG STAR: Lauren Hemp has high hopes for the future.
Lauren Hemp says she is thriving from the freedom she has been afforded, playing on the wing.

The 19-year-old 2017/18 PFA Women's Young Player of the Year has been employed on the left flank during the 2019/20 campaign, aiding City’s hunt for a league and FA Cup double.

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TICKETS: City v Chelsea Women | Sun 23 Feb

One of the most consistent performers and most dangerous attacking threats, the teenager has played a key role, quickly becoming a regular name in the starting XI and earning her first senior call-up to England Lionesses’ side.

Revered for her rapid pace and maturity beyond her years, Hemp, who scored the winner in last weekend's crucial 2-1 win over Arsenal, has been pleased with her personal form, crediting the improvement to the ‘freedom’ she has been given to showcase her talents.

“I’m really enjoying playing on the wing,” she reflected.

“It gives me a chance to be free – taking people on, playing one or two-touch passes, getting around people, putting crosses in, scoring goals… showing people what I can do.

“Playing for City, I’ve improved to become a better player, developing to get to where I am now with frequent gametime and senior England call-ups.

“I’ve improved technically, playing through the grass, practicing pinpoint crossing and shooting. I’ve learnt to focus on my passing – not just my touch – and thinking about things I hadn’t previously thought about.

“I’m coming up against really good defenders. I’m hoping to show them they won’t have an easy go at it.”

Following Sunday’s postponement of the FA Women’s Super League clash against West Ham, City return to action with the visit of Bristol City to the Academy Stadium on Wednesday 12 February (7pm).

The league leaders sit one point above second-placed Chelsea, who have a game in hand, with the pair set to meet at the end of the month in a potential title-decider.

As we approach ‘the business end of the season’, the pressure mounts but despite her age, Hemp asserts she is relishing the challenge.

Having scored at Wembley Stadium in the 2019 FA Cup Final, the youngster has already shone on the big stage and hopes to enjoy more unforgettable moments for many years to come, after penning a new multi-year deal with the Club in December.

“These are the games you want to play in,” she declared.

“Hopefully, it won’t take too long to have moments like Wembley again. I’ll never forget that moment.

“I try to soak everything in. I was watching the players out there in the FA Cup Final on the bench, thinking: ‘I want to be there in future competitions.’

“Having that moment makes me hungry for more. I’m still young but I’ve had a few setbacks in the past with injuries too, which makes me want it even more – being in the starting XI, pushing on to become the best version of myself.

“There’s a long way to go but I’m getting there. I’m gaining confidence by playing regularly and I hope to keep feeding my teammates for them to score or try to score myself.

“They’ve told me just to keep doing what I’m doing and to be confident on the ball. One of my attributes is to run at players, beating them and creating chances.

“They’re encouraging me to keep working at that and if I make a mistake, to keep going, trying to get the best out of myself.

“We all have to train hard and work our hardest for the fans. I’m hoping to improve each week so I can be playing in Finals at Wembley and lifting cups.”

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