Young Padiham footballer makes international debut for England Colleges

DEBUT: Nicola Shirtcliffe
DEBUT: Nicola Shirtcliffe

PADIHAM youngster Nicola Shirtcliffe recently made her international debut for the BCS England Colleges side.

The 17-year-old Blackburn Rovers Ladies Reserves winger came through three trials to earn her place in the national squad, and made her debut in a 3-0 defeat against Australia at Solihull Moors.

Lightning-quick Nicola, who also plays for the ACCROSS Girls Academy, played for Lammack Juniors from Under 12 to Under 16, earning a place at Rovers’ Centre of Excellence aged 15, and after trials for their successful ladies side, has gone on to become a reserve team regular.

She has scored four goals in nine appearances so far this season, including a hat-trick in the 5-4 Premier Reserve League Cup win at Leicester City, and the equaliser in a 1-1 league draw at Sunderland - and earned a number of first team call-ups.

The big Clarets fan, who also works as a waitress at the Higher Trapp, represented Lancashire while still a pupil at St Christopher’s, and came through a north west trial at college before being named in the final 33 following another trial at Lilleshall.

From there she earned a place in the 22-strong squad after a Phase Three trial, and made her bow against Australia, ahead of the first leg of the annual Anglo-Welsh Shield match against Welsh Colleges, again at Solihill Moors, on March 23rd.

Against Australia, England were on the back foot, before falling behind after half an hour.

England improved after the break, but the visitors added a second, before killing the game off with a third after a defensive lapse.

Aside from her football talents, Nicola has been a keen athlete, performing for Hyndburn Athletics Club over 100m and 200m, running a best of 13.4 seconds in the shorter sprint, and 28.5 seconds in the half-lap race.