W-League: Glory recruit Kennedy at home in defence

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Perth Glory centre-back Alanna Kennedy would love nothing more than to reclaim a midfield role, but she knows her best chance of playing in next year’s World Cup lies in defence.

Kennedy started her professional career as a midfielder with Sydney FC in 2010 and earned her first Matildas cap less than two years later following some impressive performances for the Newcastle Jets.

Sydney-raised Kennedy returned to the Sky Blues for the 2012/13 season, but soon found herself in the unfamiliar role of marshalling the team’s defence from centre-back.

It is a position the 19-year-old has grown to love and call her own over the past three years, despite her desire to move up the ground and play a more attacking role.

“I’m just happy to be playing to be honest so I don’t mind too much what position it is, but if I had my way I’d love to be playing in the midfield,” Kennedy said.

“You’re on the ball all the time; it’s a very important position and I enjoy playing there, but I’ve been moved down back, which I’m happy with as well.

“I’m learning new things there and at the moment that’s probably the best position for me in terms of the national team and the W-League.”

Being confined to a defensive role didn’t stop Kennedy from sneaking forward and scoring a goal in Glory’s 2-1 win over Newcastle at Magic Park last Saturday.

It was Kennedy’s first goal in the Westfield W-League in almost two years and reminded her just how sweet it is for a defender to put the ball in the back of the net.

Kennedy’s partnership with Canadian international Shelina Zadorsky in central defence has been integral to Perth’s unbeaten start to the season after deciding to head west to play alongside good friends Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Mackenzie Arnold.

The quartet’s arrival has placed high expectations on Glory this season, but Kennedy said it was not something she or her fellow Matildas were concerned about.

“Given the success we’ve had so far, that’s probably taken a little bit of the pressure off our shoulders rather than having the team talked up because of all the Matildas in the team,” Kennedy said.

“I think everyone in the team is an equal and I’ve told a few people in general conversation how well this team gets along so things like that don’t matter.

“There’s no difference myself and any of the local Perth players, except we try to share our experiences and knowledge with the girls who haven’t experienced as much as us.”

A win over Adelaide United at Ashfield Sports Club on Saturday will ensure the club’s best ever start to a W-League campaign, but Kennedy said coach Jamie Harnwell was continually reminding his players not to get complacent.

“We set a goal not to concede any goals on the weekend and unfortunately that didn’t happen,” Kennedy said.

“Jamie’s definitely trying to make sure we don’t get too ahead of ourselves. There’s lots of small things which he likes to hammer into us because he doesn’t want us lose concentrate and give other teams a sniff.”

Kennedy, who has 15 international caps to her name, said she was keen to join an overseas club during the off-season in the lead-up to next year’s World Cup in Canada to enhance her prospects of being included in new coach Alen Stajcic’s squad.

“I just think I need to get a little bit more exposure, especially with the World Cup coming up, just to get my name out there a little bit more,” she said.

“I’d love to travel the world with my football, whether that be in the US, Asia or Europe, so that’s definitely a goal of mine.”

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