Learning from Casey Stoney, chasing Chelsea and Man City, and her England dream – Manchester United forward Alessia Russo is on the comeback trail

England international Alessia Russo says she’s desperate to help Manchester United secure a Champions League spot as she closes in on a return to action.

Russo joined United from Brighton and Hove Albion last summer and enjoyed a perfect start to life with the Red Devils, hitting three goals in her first four Women’s Super League appearances for the club.

Russo is back and ready to make an impact for the Red Devils

But in November she had to have surgery on a hamstring problem sustained in training, meaning she has missed a large chunk of the campaign.

In her absence, United have enjoyed a strong season under head coach Casey Stoney and currently sit in third place in the WSL, just four points behind arch-rivals Manchester City, who occupy the second Champions League place.

But having sustained a minor setback a few weeks ago, the forward is now on the brink of making a hugely welcome return to action and her main goal is to help United chase down City and current WSL leaders Chelsea.

Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, Russo said: “Injuries are not nice for anyone but it’s part of football, unfortunately. It was a massive learning curve for me, I think. 

Russo has stepped up her training ahead of her comeback

“I learnt a lot about my body, what works and what doesn’t work and I also tried to focus on how I could best support the girls in other ways rather than being on the pitch, which, unfortunately, wasn’t possible.

“It’s been quite a long process, but one I take day-by-day. I’m looking forward to getting back on the pitch and being better than I was.

“We set targets at the start of the season and our target was that we wanted to get into the Champions League. It’s our second season in the league and I think we’re confident we can do that and that’s been the goal throughout the season and that’s what we’ve been working towards in every session and in every game.

“We started the season in great form and we’ve been going well, but we’ve still got a massive end to the season. Like you said, it’s so close at the top of the table, so it will be a really exciting end to the season for Women’s football.”

Russo made five appearances in all competitions before a hamstring injury hit

As a lifelong United fan, it was a no-brainer for Russo to join the club she supported as a kid last summer and if her early season form is anything to go by, she has taken her game to another level under the watchful eye of United boss Stoney.

But, coincidentally, both Russo and Stoney’s paths crossed long before the forward made the move to Manchester.

“She [Stoney] has been incredible,” Russo explains.

“It’s amazing to learn from a player who’s been through it all and played at the highest level herself. It’s actually quite interesting for me as Casey was a centre-back so in training, I try to pick her brain a little bit and she’s been giving me tips on movements she didn’t like defending as a centre-back which will help with my game. 

Russo and Stoney’s paths crossed before she joined Manchester United

“It’s been great to learn from Casey and I’ve still got a lot more to learn. It’s lovely to be playing under a manager who has seen it all herself.

“Once upon a time, we were both at Charlton together. I was in the under-11s when Casey was with the first team and I got to be a mascot and it just worked out that I walked out with Casey. It’s cool to see how far we’ve both come and what the woman’s game has developed into today.”

A year ago, Russo turned one of her childhood dreams into a reality when she made her England debut when she replaced Toni Duggan in a 1-0 defeat to Spain at the SheBelieves Cup. Due to injury and the COVID-19 pandemic, that remains her one and only cap to date.

Since then, a lot has changed with the Lionesses, with Phil Neville leaving his role as England manager at the start of the year to take up a similar position at David Beckham’s Inter Miami in America.

Russo can’t wait to get back scoring goals for Manchester United

Neville has been replaced on an interim basis by former Norway international Hege Riise and after making her much anticipated return to action, one of Russo’s main aims is to force her way back into the England squad.

“I think being selected for England is a massive honour and something as a little girl that I always dreamed about,” Russo finished.

“When I was able to make my debut this time last year, it was a privilege, but it’s earnt and not given. It’s exciting that England have so much talent to choose from these days. Everyone is in great form for their clubs. There was an international friendly a couple of weeks ago where we got a great result against Northern Ireland.

“I’d love to get myself back into the England squad. Right now, my priority is to just get back on the pitch with Manchester United and hopefully, let that [my form] do the talking. It’s been a long time out and I just can’t wait to be back playing with the United girls.

Russo is aiming to add to the England cap she won last year

“I haven’t spoken to her [Hege Riise]. I’ve been focused on getting back fit and getting back on the pitch right now.

“She’s had an unbelievable career and it’s exciting for England to have such an incredible player lead their side. Similar to Casey, it’s nice to see so many professional women take managerial roles. I haven’t spoken to her yet, but hopefully, that will come further down the line.”

Hear more from Alessia Russo on Women’s Football Weekly this evening from 6pm on talkSPORT2.


By: Anton Stanley
Title: Learning from Casey Stoney, chasing Chelsea and Man City, and her England dream – Manchester United forward Alessia Russo is on the comeback trail
Sourced From: talksport.com/football/849823/manchester-united-alessia-russo-casey-stoney-chelsea-man-city-england/
Published Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2021 15:09:47 +0000

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