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Jayne Ludlow made her first appearance of the season for Arsenal against Bristol Academy on Sunday, and made a strong impact on her return by scoring twice in their 6-0 victory.
The influential midfielder had been missing because of international duty but slotted back into the Gunners team as though she had never been away. "I couldn't wait to get back, to be honest," Jayne told Women's Soccer Scene after the game. "I've enjoyed playing for Wales in the last two weeks but it's always nice to come back to your club and get a good result."
Arsenal have started the season in prime form but Jayne is happy to admit that she wasn't frustrated with missing the opening two games. "We've got a big squad," she replies. "Anyone playing for the team is capable of doing the job so the girls have done really well."
"When you play alongside the likes of Katie (Chapman) and Kelly (Smith) and all the other girls it's pretty easy to step in and do your own job. We played really well in the first half, passed and moved really quickly, but maybe in the second half some of the girls got tired, including myself, and the tempo wasn't there although Bristol kept going and battled. It was a good result for us."
Jayne has taken over the captaincy at Arsenal in place of injury victim Faye White and she is determined that the armband will not affect her game. "I don't think it changes the way that I play," she says. "Hopefully, I'm the same person and I am enjoying it at the moment. We hope that Faye will be back by the end of the season but I'll enjoy it while I have it.
"When you play for Arsenal, there's always pressure on players to perform and keep their places but I wouldnt say there's any extra pressure on us this season. Our training, and everything, has gone up a notch or two but there's always pressure," she smiles.
Jayne also enjoyed a successful time away with Wales, playing a vital role in helping her country finish top of Group Eight in the World Cup qualifiers. Although this will not take them to China, it gives them a great opportunity to lift themselves among the major women's football nations in Europe. "We were all pinching ourselves as the Estonia game went on, when we were scoring more and more goals we thought we were dreaming," she laughs.
"We've won our group for the first time and we have to play Belgium in the play offs now, so hopefully we can get up to play the big girls in the A group."
So what has been done to help make Wales a more successful side? "In the past, they haven't put us into Championships and we haven't been playing games," Jayne replies, "but now we are getting a run of games and the team performances have been going up every game we play and the girls are getting used to each other. The FAW are taking things more seriously and they're backing us more, which is great and the manager (Andy Beattie) is obviously doing a good job as well."
You can watch the full interview with Arsenal and Wales captain Jayne Ludlow on our TV Channel!
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