Lana Clelland insists she can fill the void left by injured star Jane Ross and score the goals to keep Scotland’s Euro 2017 dream alive against Portugal on Sunday.
Scotland’s fears became reality when Ross was ruled out of the rest of the group stages with a shoulder injury suffered in their 6-0 defeat by England, and manager Anna Signeul needs to find a new striker capable of producing at the highest level.
Step forward Clelland, who played 45 minutes against England and made an impact with her pace and trickery out wide.
The former Spartans player is in red-hot form in front of goal too, scoring 23 times in Italy last season for UPC Tavagnacco – more than anyone else in Serie A.
The 24-year-old was the only non-Italian in her club’s squad and reckons it has taken her game to a new level – something she is ready to show against Portugal.
“I wouldn’t take it as pressure. There are big numbers and big boots to fill but I’m confident in my own ability that I can do a job if called upon,” said the striker from Perth.
“I’ve always felt I’m a natural born goalscorer. In the last few years I’ve maybe lacked fitness but I’ve really come into my own this year and next season I hope to score even more.
“I’ve really put in the work and I’m glad it’s starting to show. I’ve grown up so much since moving to Italy.
“We’ve just signed a Slovenian player but for two years I was the only non-Italian in the squad and I surprised myself just how easily I picked up the language. The club are really good to me.”
Scotland will play a more open game against Portugal as they go in search of goals or points, knowing that if they don’t get them then they will be going home.
Portugal are in the same situation, having lost 2-0 to Iberian rivals Spain in their opening game, but enter this contest as the major underdogs.
Being favourites at this level is not something Scotland are used to, but manager Signeul is convinced they will rise to the occasion.
“I have been proud all these years of the fact we can go out there and perform under this pressure so that is what we expect and I do think they will bounce back and show how good they are,” she said.
“In terms of scoring goals, we had seven corners against England, so we were very disappointed. We think we could have done better so on every level we will see an improvement against Portugal.
“It is not that there is no pressure, because it is a must-win game. We need to be aware of Portugal’s strength and they have a very good player in [Claudia] Neto and we have a lot of respect for her.
“She plays at the top of the diamond, even if they did not play like that against Spain. She is a very good player.”
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