Last November, Fran Kirby’s soccer career hung in the balance. She was diagnosed with pericarditis, a heart condition that left her feeling chest pains, breathlessness and nausea. Her cardiologist told her that there was a chance she might not play again. However, 10 months later, Kirby is not only playing regularly, but looking back to her best.
A lot changed at Chelsea while she was out. Beth England developed into a top finisher and was then joined up front by Sam Kerr. Months after Kerr’s signature, Pernille Harder arrived, another world-class player bolstering Emma Hayes’ attacking options. Kirby had to adapt upon her recovery to secure a starting spot, and she has done just that.
Primarily a striker or No. 10, Kirby has started this campaign playing on the right wing of a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 system. Occasionally, she has been shifted more centrally during matches, but most of her game time has come on the right-hand side of the frontline. In four FAWSL appearances, two of which came against title rivals Manchester City and Manchester United, she has scored three goals and set up another two. Evidently, she’s adapted well to her new position. Below is a detailed breakdown of how.
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