Chelsea manager Paul Green believes Lauren James’ flying start to the 2022/23 campaign is a ‘testament’ to the manner in which she was carefully nurtured during her debut season with the club.
James joined Chelsea from Manchester United in the summer of 2021, but was limited to just six WSL appearances during her first season in west London as she struggled with injuries and fitness. Emma Hayes frequently spoke about the importance of managing the young forward carefully and not rushing her back.
The 21-year-old has already made six appearances in the WSL this term – four of them starts – and netted two superb solo goals during Chelsea’s 3-1 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday.
“I think Lauren from pre-season really benefitted from that journey last season and getting things right off the pitch and really building her slowly and progressively,” said Green.
“I think we’ve all seen that from the start she’s made, right from pre-season where she was outstanding in the game against Lyon where she scored a goal, and she’s continued that into pre-season. She obviously broke into the senior England squad, made a few appearances and we’re really pleased for her.”
He added: “It is a full testament to the whole staff that have helped, and Lauren maybe getting more professional in some of her habits and everything that goes for any young player and learning off the likes of Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby, Pernille Harder, Maren Mjelde, all of our senior players in that one year where she wasn’t on the pitch a lot but I think she learnt a hell of a lot off the pitch.
“I think that’s really now benefitting her going into this season and I think we can already see the impact of that in the short time frame between pre-season and now.”
James produced a smart touch to burst clear of Rachel Corsie followed by an arrowed finish into the bottom corner for her first, before she nipped past Maz Pacheco and rifled the ball into the roof of the net for her second.
The goals were the forwards first of the season, capping her flying start to the campaign.
“I’d certainly say I’m finding my feet again after the injuries, said James. “Starting to find rhythm and in the flow of things, and I’m just enjoying my football and playing with a smile.”