Cunningham eyeing Scotland return


Megan Cunningham

With the return of domestic action on the horizon, goalkeeper Megan Cunningham is targeting not only a full return to fitness and reclaiming her spot between the Celtic sticks, but also a Scotland comeback.

Cunningham, who underwent hip surgery, is in her fourth season in her second spell with the club but has been forced to take the action in from the dugout as both Celtic grew in stature and the Scottish Women’s team qualified for their first ever World Cup.

Rather than bemoan her injury woes, the 23-year-old maintains a maturity about the situation, choosing to take things as they come as she prepares to dig deep to root herself firmly in Scotland boss Shelley Kerr’s thoughts before the flight to France in June.

She said: “I’ve had a couple of caps for the A-Squad, but hopefully I can try and get myself back to full fitness and back in amongst the numbers.”

“We’ve obviously got a very important campaign coming up and the girls have done so well this year and are getting better and better. Shelley has come in and is really striving for better standards and trying to get the clubs to get behind us and promote it and things like that. A lot of the girls are now playing professionally as well which is making massive improvements in the national team as well.

“I haven’t had as many caps as I would like but hopefully I can get myself fully fit and see what happens from there.”

The keeper who gained invaluable top-flight experience at Hamilton Accies and Glasgow City before returning to Celtic progressed though the national youth setup from under-17s to under-19s before grabbing former A-Squad manager Anna Signuel’s attention and ultimately winning two caps.

But chances by nature are fewer and farther between for goalkeepers. Devoid of the opportunity to easily slot into another position when the opportunity arises, Cunningham is acutely aware of the task she faces if she is to break her way into Scotland’s plans.

“I think with goalkeepers, when you have your set one it’s very hard to make a change,” she conceded, as she pointed to a former Celtic shot stopper to support her point.

“Gemma Fay is a prime example - she had a great career at international level and is the most capped Scotland player. She had a really good presence about her and really set the marker down, so it’s now up to all the goalies to take that spot now. Lee Alexander is doing really well now, but you never know. 

“You go with your best goalie and whoever is on form. When you have a few keepers and its much of a muchness you then look at form but ultimately it’s what the manager likes, preferences and style of play and then what the goalkeeper can offer.

“We all have our strengths and weaknesses and it’s just whatever works well for the campaign. It’s basically a cup game every time you play an international, you need to win. If you lose – that’s it.

“As I said, you never know, we’ll see what happens.”

Celtic open their 2019 Scottish Building Society SWPL 1 account against Forfar Farmington at K-Park on 10 February in a 2pm kick-off. The Women’s World Cup begins on 7 June in France.

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