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Women's PFA Young Player of the Year

Women's PFA Young Player of the Year nominees

Sophie Baggaley - Bristol City

Bristol City goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley has enjoyed a sensational year since committing her future to the Vixens. A fine shot-stopper and confident in the air, she started her senior career in 2014 at Birmingham City, but went on loan to Stoke Gifford in 2017-18 to secure more first team minutes.

This season, she won the September FA WSL Player of the Month award – and at the same time was also named the inaugural FA WSL PFA Fans’ Player of the Month.

It was well-deserved reward for a series of matches in which she conceded only twice in 270 minutes of football, and kept clean sheets against both Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea.

“I’m really pleased with how the whole squad and I have started the season,” she said at the time.

“For me, I’ve just been working hard to get better every day and do the best I can for the team. It’s great to see the work I’ve put in on the training ground come into my performances on the pitch.”

Oxtoby was pleased with her custodian’s early-season form too, saying in October, “Sophie Baggaley has been on fire for us over the opening weeks of the season.”

Her abilities are also admired on the international stage; she has represented England at every level up to under 23.

Erin Cuthbert – Chelsea

Cuthbert’s rise to the top has been rapid – but although her goals might catch the eye, she is glad that her grit and determination are equally obvious.

Her Scotland coach, Shelley Kerr, has acknowledged her “abundant talent”, but added that she also values her player’s confidence. “She’s a fighter with a real desire to win,” Kerr said.

Cuthbert agreed. “I feel such a sense of responsibility and make sure I leave nothing on the pitch. It is nice that people see that because, more than goals or skill, I’d like to be known for my attitude, always giving everything and working for the team.”

The exciting midfielder, who can also play up front, offers creativity as well as a goalscoring option and has proved herself invaluable for Chelsea, helping them to the double in 2017-18 and impressing in their Champions League campaign.

Cuthbert signed for Chelsea from Glasgow City following a remarkable 2016 in Scotland – a year in which she was the club’s top goalscorer and was named Player of the Year, as well as collecting a Scottish Women’s Premier League winner’s medal.

Alisha Lehmann - West Ham Utd

In their first season in the WSL, West Ham are very grateful that they signed Alisha Lehmann before their campaign began.

She also possesses the classic nose for goal, adding tap-ins to her tally. With a quick instinct, she is also invaluable when it comes to creating chances for teammates.

“I’m very happy to be here in England,” Lehmann told the club’s offi cial website

when she signed on the dotted line. “West Ham is a good team with a lot of good players and I’m happy to play for this team. I’m so excited to play in England, it’s a new part of my life and I’m happy to be

here.”

The club’s general manager Karen Ray was equally pleased to have signed the youngster, saying: “Alisha is an exciting and talented young player. Her continued experience with the Switzerland national team will bring an increased level of ambition and game understanding.”

The striker moved to East London from her homeland of Switzerland, where she had represented BSC YB Frauen of the Nationalliga A for the previous three years, scoring 14 goals since her first appearance.

Vivianne Miedema – Arsenal

She has made her mark at international level too, as part of the Netherlands squad which won the euro 2017 title thanks in part to her brace in the final against Denmark.

Miedema has had one of the most stunning seasons in WSL history.

By February, she had already broken the league record for most goals in a single season – and she just continues to add to that hugely impressive haul.

Now in her second year with Arsenal, she has really found her niche. She signalled her intent for the season ahead by smashing a hat-trick on the opening day of the season.

The statistics continue to startle but Miedema herself is not focused on counting the goals she scores.

“The goalscoring numbers don’t really say anything to me but I do watch games back and think, ‘Viv, you lost the ball way too many times’ or ‘Viv, you need to be stronger here’,” she told her club’s official website.

“Because I like football so much, I don’t mind watching it back or watching other games. I just want to be better.”

Georgia Stanway - Manchester City

If that wasn’t enough, she is now a key part of Phil Neville’s Lionesses squad, ready to impress on the biggest stage of them all. The midfielder can turn her hand to most attacking positions – and can spring a surprise or two when it comes to scoring goals as well, as she loves to try a long-range effort.

Born in Barrow-in Furness, she started her career at Blackburn Rovers before moving to Manchester City. When she helped her team to the Continental Cup win this year against Arsenal at Bramall Lane, it was her fourth piece of silverware domestically.

In 2016 she captained England under- 17s to a bronze medal in the European Championships and led them through their first ever World Cup campaign in the same year, when they reached the quarter-final.

She stepped up to the under-20s for their 2018 World Cup campaign, scoring six times as they secured a third-place finish, and when she was called up to the senior team, she even scored on her debut there - against Austria in a 3-0 friendly win in theautumn of 2018.

“I’ve been here four years already and I’ve loved every single minute,” Stanway told the club’s official TV channel when she signed a contract extension in March 2019.

“This is where I feel at home and this is where the majority of my development has happened and how I am the player I am today. I’m in the best possible position to move forward and I’m happy here.”

Keira Walsh - Manchester City

Growing up as a City fan, it is really no wonder that she delights in life at the Academy Stadium, helping them garner silverware for that trophy cabinet, including the 2017 Women’s FA Cup – where Walsh was named Player of the Match.

“I work with Keira every day and we see what she can do,” her club coach Nick Cushing has said. “Technically she’s good, she’s dedicated, she wants to be a professional footballer for the rest of her career. She has a real passion for the game. She watches football all the time, she watches players and her understanding of the game is unrivalled in the league.”

Having made her senior debut for the team the year before – and having just finished her A-levels.

At the time she admitted that turning pro with her childhood team was a “dream come true”, telling the club’s official website: “I never thought I’d be playing for City!”

England boss Phil Neville has also been impressed with her, saying after the 2019 SheBelieves Cup: “Keira Walsh, I think, is getting up to the level of being world class and believing it: she takes the ball, she passes the ball, she’s athletic and has real energy.”

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