Cymru will take the next step in preparing for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers when Gemma Grainger's side take on Scotland at Parc-y-Scarlets on Tuesday, 15 June (7.15pm).
International Challenge Match
Cymru v Scotland
- 19:15 Tuesday 15 June
- Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
- Live on BBC Sport website
The international challenge match will be the final warm-up match before the qualifying campaign begins with a double-header against Group I rivals Kazakhstan and Estonia in September, and Grainger is keen to make the most of the opportunity to build on the positives of the April camp when she took charge of the side for the first time with games against Canada and Denmark.
“I'm still working with the staff but this is very much my stamp on the squad following the time I had in April with the team,” said Grainger recently. “Overall, it's a good opportunity for me to see a few players before we select the squad in September. Scotland are another higher-ranked nation, which was part of the plan. For us, we're looking forward to being tested by them.”
Scotland qualified for the finals of EURO 2017 and the 2019 World Cup, their only two appearances at the finals of a major tournament, but failed to make it out of the group stage on each occasion. Meanwhile, Cymru are looking to make history this time around and qualify for the finals for the first time having come close in recent campaigns.
Grainger has once again named a strong squad for the match with headliners Jess Fishlock and captain Sophie Ingle both included, while Megan Wynne and Hayley Ladd return having both missed the April camp through injury. However, Ceri Holland will miss the match after impressing on her senior international debut earlier this year.
“The main point to raise is that Ceri Holland is injured for this squad,” explained Grainger. “Since she's come back from America she's hit the ground running with club and country, so it's a really good opportunity for her to get some rest between now and September. If it was going to happen them I guess this was the best time for it to happen. Ceri would be the main player who's not in the squad from April.
“Megan Wynne is coming back into the squad. I met with Meg after the Denmark game, she's had a long recovery after injury, so it's nice to be able to get her into the squad. It was really nice to talk to her as that injury is a long one. She's dedicated to coming back and being the best that she can be. I'm looking forward to seeing Haylay [Ladd] on the pitch too, I've met her off the pitch and spent some time with her to see how she is and how she is recovering from her injury.”
The two teams last met at the 2017 Cyprus Cup when Scotland claimed a 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory after a 0-0 draw. However, the first women's international between the two countries took place back in 1975 when Scotland claimed a 3-2 win in Hamilton. Gloria O'Connell and Shelley Walters were the goalscorers for Cymru as manager Billy Daniels took his team north of the border in the formative years of women's football in Wales.
But it is the future what matters for Cymru now, and Grainger is relishing the challenge of taking on another higher-ranked nation and the benefits that came with such a test. “I think in terms of our mentality and our preparation, a higher-ranked nation really sets the tone for what we're trying to achieve when we go into camp,” she added. “It's a balance of learning more about the players, but also learning more about the team and how strong we can be performance wise. We started in April looking at how we want to perform, because we know if we perform, the results will come.”