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Kelly Smith is adjusting to life back in the Premier League and is happy that she is progressing well as she attempts to get back to her best form after breaking her leg back in July. The 26-year-old England star, who rejoined Arsenal earlier this month after seven years in the USA, played her first full 90 minutes for over six months on Sunday, marking it by scoring for the Gunners in their 7-0 win over Bristol City and she told Women's Soccer Scene that she will get better once she has games under her belt.
"It was my first full game for six months and I am feeling it a bit now!" laughs Kelly. "My legs are still aching now. I thought that in the first half I did alright but I need match practice.
"My first start and my first goal, and it was good to get an early one and be on the scoresheet. I got on to a long ball from Faye (White) and managed to round the keeper and score, it was nice to be scoring goals again.
"I'm getting there, training is helping me become stronger. I just need to keep building up and get more confidence, which has taken a knock after my last injury. I want to get a good run in the team."
This week, Arsenal travel to Leeds United in the pick of the Fifth Round ties in the F.A.Women's Cup, although Kelly admits they will be largely an unknown quantity for her. "I know the England players but not much else," she admits. "but I am looking forward to it. Leeds have come up the leagues whilst I have been away and they are bound to be a good side. It's a big game for us, and we'll be looking to go there and get a good result."
Kelly's first aim is to establish herself back at Arsenal. "It's been a big adjustment for me," she says. "I've been used to training three or four times a week when with the (New Jersey) Wildcats but we only train on two nights here. I'm trying to settle in the best I can with a new team, although players such as Clare Wheatley, Justine Lorton and Kirsty Pealling were at Arsenal before I left, and Faye White also played in my last season.
"We have an unreal squad, and there is a lot of competition for places. You have to work extra hard to get into the team, and then even harder to keep your place."
Arsenal are still in the running for a possible 'Grand Slam' of four trophies but Kelly is taking a cautious stance on any potential success. "We're aware we are still in four competitions, but we're just thinking about the Leeds game," she says. "We've a vital game against Everton coming up as well but we must not look beyond Leeds."
As with the rest of her England team mates, Kelly has been awaiting the outcome of last week's UEFA Championships draw and she revealed that she is pleased with the outcome. "I'm very happy with the draw, staying away from Germany is good for us," she admits. "We know we can beat Denmark after we did so last year and Finland are ranked below us. Sweden are a top side in Europe and they will be tough but we need a good start, if we can manage that it might take any pressure off the Sweden game.
"Fingers crossed, I can get back in the England team and stay there. We had a good week in La Manga for our training camp, and we are ready to play Italy next month. That will be a good measure for us, they are also in the European Championships and it will be good for us to see where we stand now."
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