Ruesha Littlejohn

Ruesha Littlejohn has arrived in Slovakia brimming with confidence after helping her club Sandviken to the verge of promotion to the Norwegian top flight.

The 24-year-old has bagged 13 goals since joining the Bergen based club from Glasgow City earlier in the year and is thoroughly enjoying life in Scandinavia.

“It’s going good,” she said. “It’s been a good experience so far. I have enjoyed my time in Bergen, it’s a nice place and the people are really nice and friendly so it’s nice to settle in. The football has been good, we are top of the league, so everything is going good.”

She’s been playing up front and in midfield for Sandviken and the goals started flying in once she got used to the way the team played.

“It took me a bit of time to adapt to the way they wanted me to play. They are quite a direct team so there are quite a lot of long balls whereas I prefer it more to feet. But it’s also brought a lot more into my game by doing what the coach wants me to do so I am getting there. I have scored a few and we’re top of the league so it’s all going good.”

Littlejohn has played a big role in Ireland’s World Cup campaign having appeared in seven of the eight games played so far and she feels that overall the team have done well even though there are regrets about two games in particular.

“It’s a shame we slipped up to Croatia and losing 3-1 to Russia was disappointing because obviously we dropped points there. We need to keep plugging away and hopefully we will pick up points in these next two games.”

Ireland beat Slovakia 2-0 in Bray a year ago at the very start of the campaign and Littlejohn feels they need to go looking to win the game from the first whistle.

“I think if we go out and start strong we should, hopefully, take care of the game. They’ve improved so it’s obviously not going to be an easy game but if we got out and play the best we can and start strong, hopefully everything will work out in our favour.”

With two goals from 23 appearances, Littlejohn is keen to improve her scoring ratio having showed just how clinical she can be in front of goal when scoring against World No 7 Canada at the Cyprus Cup last March.

“You normally remember goals if you win the game and obviously we didn’t win the game so it doesn’t really count for anything but it was nice to score. I think a few of the girls in the team are wanting to score a few more goals so it would be nice to try and get a couple myself. We will see what happens.”

Saturday’ s match against Slovakia takes place at the Slovakia Football Federation’s National Training Centre in Senec (2.30pm Irish time) while Wednesday’s final qualifier against Germany will be played on Wednesday, September 17 in the Albstadion, Heidenheim (5.30pm Irish time).

SQUAD: Goalkeepers: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Niamh Reid-Burke (Raheny United). Defenders: Áine O’Gorman (UCD Waves), Sophie Perry (Brighton & Hove Albion), Meabh de Burca (Galway WFC), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Niamh Fahey (Arsenal), Karen Duggan (UCD Waves), Megan Campbell (Florida State University). Midfielders: Julie Ann Russell (UCD Waves), Siobhan Killeen (Raheny United), Dora Gorman (UCD Waves), Ciara Grant (UCD Waves), Shannon Smyth (Amazon Grimstad). Forwards: Fiona O’Sullivan (Notts County), Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), Stephanie Roche (ASPTT Albi), Ruesha Littlejohn (Sandviken).

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