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Rianna Jarrett: 'I'm just delighted to be back on the pitch'

Rianna Jarrett, London City Lionesses (Image: thoughtsofawing)
Rianna Jarrett, London City Lionesses (Image: thoughtsofawing)

The Lionesses’ narrow win over Portsmouth in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup was significant for several reasons – not least the return of Rianna Jarrett.

The 28-year-old was out of action for nearly a year due to injury, but re-entered the fray as a second-half substitute on a stormy afternoon at Princes Park on Sunday [8 January].

“It definitely wasn’t the best conditions to come on in, but I just really wanted to be back on the pitch,” explained the Republic of Ireland international. “It’s been a long year of ups and downs – and there were plenty more downs than ups – but it’s all worth it when you finally get back on the pitch.”

Rianna Jarrett, London City Lionesses (Image: thoughtsofawing)
Rianna Jarrett, London City Lionesses (Image: thoughtsofawing)

While her last appearance came away at Arsenal in the FA Cup on 30 January 2022, Jarret remained an influential member of the squad during her rehabilitation.

“Having ‘Ri’ back in the team has been a long time coming,” said head coach Melissa Phillips. “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t rush her process and now she is in a phase where she is incredibly robust.

“They were difficult conditions for her to come into, but you see she’s asking the referee for calls and demanding things from her teammates. She’s just a fantastic leader, you haven’t seen her on the pitch over the last year, but she’s a massive reason for our success because of the way she leads other players behind the scenes. She really pushes us on.”

Jarret, who joined London City from Brighton & Hove Albion in 2021, received a warm reception from the home crowd as she entered the field – but what was on her mind in that moment?

“I suppose I was just thinking that it was worth all the effort,” the Wexford-born forward said. “We all trained from a young age to play games and I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the last year with plenty of setbacks along the way.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of games to come in but I’m just delighted to be back on the pitch and that I can now build from here. It’s just great to be a part of it on matchday – being in the dressing room with the rest of the team – and I’m hungry for more now.”

Jarrett's return to full fitness is great news for the Lionesses as they approach two important league matches against Crystal Palace and Bristol City. After that, they will have a chance to progress in the FA Cup when they face Tottenham Hotspur at Brisbane Road.

“We knew that we would face Spurs next if we made it through,” added the Irishwoman. “We’ll definitely need to improve on our performance from today, but we love playing against teams from the Women’s Super League and you can see that from our work in the Conti Cup this season. But, until then, our focus is on the next two league games.”

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