Reading FC Women striker Lauren Bruton has given her thoughts on returning to action for the Royals after being side-lined with a long-term injury, as well as scoring on her first start for the side in 16 months.
“Last season was difficult for me with regards to the injury and not being able to play,” Bruton said. “It was tough watching the team every week knowing you can’t help.”
Reading FC Women finished the 2019-20 campaign in 5th place after the season was terminated due to the covid-19 pandemic, just two points behind Manchester United in 4th. Bruton’s injury was one of a list of long-term injuries to first team players that plagued Kelly Chambers’ side at the time, including Molly Bartrip, Rachel Rowe and Jo Potter.
Despite the frustrations of having to watch her side from the stands, Bruton remained optimistic throughout. “I just knew in myself I had to remain positive and count down those months until I was back.”
Bruton was nearing a return to the first team when the 2019-20 season was officially called off by the FA in May, so had to wait until the first game of the 2020-21 campaign to finally get some minutes under her belt for the first time in 16 long months.
Bruton made an appearance in the opening fixture, away to Arsenal, when she replaced Fara Williams at half-time. The Royals were bested by an incredibly well organised Arsenal side that currently sit top of the Women’s Super League table.
Bruton’s first start since the 2018-19 season came last Sunday in a 3-1 victory against newly promoted Aston Villa in Reading’s first home match of the campaign at Madejski Stadium.
On the 40-minute mark, Emma Mitchell received the ball on the left and played it into the Villa box where Bruton met it at the front post, flicking it coolly into the back of the visiting team’s net for Reading’s second of the afternoon.
“My first full competitive game last weekend felt like a long time coming,” Bruton said. “It was big result for the team but for me personally scoring a goal topped it off, perfectly. It was a great team performance, we were incredibly happy to walk away with our first win of the season, especially at the Madejski, and also it was especially great to be part of that victory myself. Hopefully now we kick on and have a strong season.”
Chambers’ side are next in action following the international break, when they take on West Ham in a league clash at Chigwell Constructions Stadium on Sunday October 4th.