With the withdrawal through injury of first time call-up, and current West Ham United top goalscorer, Martha Thomas, the squad selected by Shelley Kerr was by boosted by another two new faces in the shape of Manchester United’s Kirsty Hanson and surprise addition Tottenham Hotspur defender Hannah Godfrey. Hibernian midfielder Rachel Boyle and Bristol City striker Abi Harrison also make an official return to the squad whilst names such as Kim Little, Erin Cuthbert and Rachel Corsie are now well known names to followers of the national side.
Here at Leading the Line we thought we’d take a look at one of the new names in the squad by bringing United winger Hanson into focus.
Her season so far
Halifax born attacker Hanson has spent the entirety of her career playing in England starting at Sheffield FC, followed by a spell at Doncaster Belles before arriving at Manchester United in July 2018. She played a key role in United’s title winning Championship campaign featuring in 17 out of the 20 games available for play, scoring five times in the process. That form has seen her maintain her position in a Red Devils squad with strength at their disposal in the wide areas with Scotland compatriot Lizzie Arnot, Jess Sigsworth and the exciting Leah Galton all providing stiff competition for a player already capped at youth level for Scotland.
In the early part of the season she was mainly used from the bench by United coach Casey Stoney, making appearances on both flanks in replacing the aforementioned Galton and Sigsworth in the opening three matches. She would then start in her side’s 3-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspur scoring the opener, picking up a ricocheting ball on the edge of the area before cutting inside to drive it past Spurs keeper Rebecca Spencer before being substituted by Sigsworth just after the hour mark.
That goal and her performance would see her start the following week, again opening the scoring this time during a 2-0 home win against Reading at Leigh Sports Village. Her quick but late arrival into the box from the right hand side of the field allowed the winger space in the area where this time she would hit a first time effort to give put United in front. She would be again being replaced by Sigsworth with an hour on the clock as Stoney continues to rotate her attacking threats from out wide and although the youngster has played in each of her sides WSL games she has achieved just over 35 minutes per game to date.
Hanson’s passing statistics have consistently hovered around the 50% this mark season, and whilst her accuracy may sometimes be a concern what is encouraging is that in the majority of cases her efforts are in the direction of the goal. Of the two WSL games in which she has started this season (see visualisations above), both of which were on the right flank, 88% percent of her passes can be viewed as forward thinking and from the area of the pitch that she should be occupying in her role. She displays a variety of short and long range passing but it is her short game that has proved to be most fruitful at present.
As already highlighted Hanson has two goals to show for her WSL efforts so far this season with both goals scored a result of providing additional attacking support to moves happening on the opposite wing. Predominatly left footed she will cut in from the right and shoot from range, whilst on the left her instinct will be to hit the by line and get the ball into the danger area. Her xG rating of 1.18 from eight shots on goal is not to be sniffed at and at her current rate of scoring she is on course to at least match her tally from last season whilst at the same time competing at a higher level.
Where would she fit in for Scotland
It would be a surprise to see Hanson start on Friday night with Lisa Evans and Claire Emslie firmly established as first choice in the wide roles however the way Casey Stoney rotates her United wingers does mean that she has regular experience of being asked to come on and make an impact. Her passing is something that she needs to work on but her late appearance into the box is something that will cause the Albanians problems as discussed in the Leading the Line Opposition Focus here.
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