Young Padiham footballer nets place in England squad

Nicola Shirtcliffe who was called up to the England Colleges Football squad.'Photo Ben Parsons
Nicola Shirtcliffe who was called up to the England Colleges Football squad.'Photo Ben Parsons

Padiham youngster Nicola Shirtcliffe was one of only two girls to retain her place in the newly-announced BCS England College squad.

The 18-year-old made her debut last year against Australia in a 3-0 defeat at Solihull Moors, but had to go through the three-stage trial process again to keep her place.

Following her inclusion she will be representing England again today against Wales in the away leg of the annual Anglo-Welsh shield match against Welsh colleges.

Only Nicola and goalkeeper Beth Howard remain from last year following a number of girls becoming ineligible as the squad is for Under 19 players only.

Nicola played for Blackburn Rovers Ladies’ reserves last season, but has since left to return to her former club Blackburn Community Sports Club.

Her father, Andrew Shirtcliffe said: “She was just doing too much really, she had college training every day and then two nights a week with Rovers. She was just too tired and something had to give. She was risking burnout which isn’t good at her age.”

The club, previously known as Lammock, are currently third in Division One of the North West Counties Womens League with five games in hand over top side Springfields. Nicola has featured in all nine games so far playing either left back or left wing and has scored five times this season.

Talented Nicola, who attends Accrington and Rossendale college, also reprsents the ACCROSS girls academy and is joined in the England squad by three team-mates this year.

Since the squad was announced Nicola has received more good news with a scholarship to the University of South Alabama to continue her football education.

She was offered a place as a result of her college performances and was approached by the new head coach Graham Winkworth about joining the American univeristy’s squad.

The University of South Alabama play in National Division One and although she is yet to decide what to study at the university, Nicola is said be very excited at the move in July after she made the decision.