Football: Teen striker Milly Clegg earns debut Football Ferns call-up for World Cup warm-ups

  • 28/03/2023

Rising teen striker Milly Clegg has been called into the Football Ferns' squad for their upcoming international friendlies against Iceland and Nigeria.

The 17-year-old has been rewarded for her outstanding play for Wellington Phoenix and NZ age-group sides with a place in coach Jitka Klimkova's 24-strong group for next month's fixtures, which will take place in Antalya, Turkey.

Michaela Foster - daughter of All Blacks coach Ian Foster - has also been named as part of the initial squad, after being called in as an injury replacement in February and making her international debut against Argentina.

Football: Teen striker Milly Clegg earns debut Football Ferns call-up for World Cup warm-ups

They'll also be strengthened by the return of goalkeepers Victoria Esson and Anna Leat, as well as forward Jacqui Hand, who missed the previous window with injury. 

But they'll remain without veteran midfielder Ria Percival, who'll remain with her English club Tottenham Hotspur to continue her recovery from her knee injury.

Coming off the disappointment of the February international window - when they were soundly beaten in four games against Portugal and Argentina - Klimkova is eager to see what her team can do, as they continue their build up to the World Cup on home soil later this year.

"These games are both really good opportunities for us to test ourselves as well as look to implement some changes after the games last month," said Klimkova.

"It is great we are able to bring back some players we were missing with injury, as well as introduce some new faces we have been keen to bring into the team."

The games will be the final overseas fixtures the Ferns will play before July's tournament, with the extended squad assembling in New Zealand from late May to begin a two month pre-camp and warm-up matches.

Klimkova said she wants her side to re-embrace their identity as a physical, hard-working outfit opposition teams dislike playing against.

"In the past we were always gritty, physical and hard to play against and that's how we want to approach the future too," she said.

"We want really tough 1v1 defending. We want to always be much more united than we were in February as a team. Much more compact shape and when we have the ball, I'm asking the players to really demand the ball and be courageous

"If we come back to those fundamentals and be good with it I really believe that can bring us better performances and better results."

New Zealand play Iceland on April 8 (NZ time) then Nigeria on April 12.

Football Ferns squad to play Nigeria and Iceland:

Mackenzie Barry, CJ Bott, Katie Bowen, Claudia Bunge, Olivia Chance, Milly Clegg, Daisy Cleverley, Victoria Esson, Michaela Foster, Jacqui Hand, Betsy Hassett, Grace Jale, Anna Leat, Meikayla Moore, Erin Nayler, Grace Neville, Gabi Rennie, Ali Riley, Indiah-Paige Riley, Paige Satchell, Malia Steinmetz, Rebekah Stott, Kate Taylor, Hannah Wilkinson