Interview

Long read: Roord on form, fitness and Miedema

Jill Roord

Even by her own high standards, Jill Roord was flying.

Our No 14 headed into Netherlands' crucial European Championship qualifier against Russia full of confidence on the back of consecutive hat-tricks against Reading and West Ham United - a feat which had seen her beat her own goal tally from last season within just 150 minutes of the new campaign.

Such was Roord's irrepressible form that she even netted in Moscow - a goal which would turn out to be Netherlands' winner. But then all of her momentum came to a jarring halt 15 minutes before full-time.

A minor knee injury signalled the end of the 23-year-old's game and brought a premature end to her time at the Dutch national team's September training camp, causing her to return to north London and begin her recovery with our medical team.

But instead of dwelling on the disappointment, Roord has used her time on the sidelines constructively and has turned her attention to getting herself in the best shape possible - a process she began right at the start of lockdown.

"I was working a lot on my fitness over the summer," the midfielder said. "That's the bit that I could really develop as well, my physicality. I had the time during the coronavirus [break], so I've been doing a lot. If we're going to back to training, then I wanted to be really fit. It worked out really well.

"I was just focused on my fitness, and physically with the running. Also mentally, I had time to switch off and spend some time with family. That did me really good as well. I just felt really fresh going into the new season."

Roord certainly hit the ground running in 2020/21. A 41-minute opening-day hat-trick was followed up by a 33-minute treble just six days later - and the Barclays FA Women's Super League Player of the Month award was soon in her hands for September.

"Coming into this season, I didn't expect to start with two hat-tricks but I feel really good," Roord said. "I think in the first two games in the league we played really well as a team and scored a lot of goals.

"I feel confident and as a team we feel confident, we feel good. It's exciting to see what we're capable of and I'm excited to see what we can bring this season.

"I think it's always difficult when you go to a new club and maybe that's why this season has been better. You have to get used to everything: to the team, to the environment, to the football culture.

"In Holland, everything is about football. It starts when you're really little. Even on a professional level, every training session is with the ball. It's all about technique, it's all about building up, about possession.

"The way we play is a Dutch thing. I've been in Germany and now I'm in England. The focus here is a lot on the physical ability as well, and that's different with Holland because we focus on the football.

"It takes time to get used to the change and to feel completely comfortable. I think right now I feel really good here, I feel really happy and I'm happy to be on the pitch every day with the girls. We have a lot of fun on the pitch, off the pitch and we've got so many good players. It's a really good environment."

Roord

A popular figure in the dressing room, Roord has formed close bonds with all of her team-mates since arriving in north London back in May 2019. But on the pitch, she has really benefitted from working closely with an old friend.

"Viv and I go way back," Roord explained. "I think I was 13 and she was 14 and that's when we started playing together for the national team. People always said after the first game that we had this connection, and it's always been like that. We've scored so many goals together and we're also really close off the pitch, which obviously helps on the pitch. We've been through a lot together.

"I think last season I played most games a bit deeper. I played at 6 a few times because of injuries, I played at 8 but not really at 10. Coming into this season, I started as a 10 and I do feel very comfortable there. I think it's my best position, especially with the connection I have with Viv. That's going really well."

Miedema has continued to find the net in Roord's absence. Two goals against Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend put her within touching distance of netting a 50th WSL goal in as many games when we host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

And while our midfielder won't return in time for a possible record-breaking north London derby, she'll be cheering on her good friend from the sidelines - and taking another step closer to her comeback.

"Now, my knee feels fine," Roord said. It was just a twist in that game against Russia so obviously needs a bit of rest. But now I've been running in straight lines so I know I'll be back soon.

"In the past, I've had good games but it's always been a bit like good game and then an invisible game. It's been like this so we said that I needed to be more consistent. We're not that far into the season but the first two games have been consistent at least. Let's hope that continues!"

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