‘I don’t think there is much pressure on us’ – Littlejohn

'I don't think there is much pressure on us' - Littlejohn

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Ruesha Littlejohn
Ruesha Littlejohn made her senior international debut in 2012

Republic of Ireland striker Ruesha Littlejohn believes there is little expectation on her side as they prepare to begin their World Cup Group B campaign against Australia on Thursday.

The Republic are competing in their first World Cup and will also take on Canada and Nigeria.

“I don’t think there is much pressure on us. I don’t think people expect much from us,” said Littlejohn.

“We want to show people what we’re capable of and play to our strengths.”

“It’s our first tournament, it’s going to be difficult, we’re going to need to weather a few storms and stick together,” added the 33-year-old.

Littlejohn has scored six goals in 72 senior international appearances for the Irish team and feels confident she and her team-mates will take facing the co-hosts in their opening match of the tournament in their stride.

“I’ve played in front of a few big crowds but not 80,000. I’m excited, I’m looking forward to it,” she said.

“There are going to be nerves but it’s just about not letting the emotions and nerves get the better of you. I think I’ll thrive on the occasion.”

Australia are ranked 10 in the Fifa rankings, 12 places above their opponents at Stadium Australia.

“It’s getting to crunch time now. We are just doing what we need to do to be ready for the game and be in the best possible place for matchday.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment for so long, wanting to be at a major tournament, and now it’s finally here.

“We’re opening the World Cup, which is amazing, but at the same time we’re not really thinking about it. We’re relaxed, the squad is in a nice place.

“We don’t want to be too nervous a couple of days before the tournament kicks off.”

Littlejohn, recently released by Women’s Super League side Aston Villa, singles out forward Sam Kerr as posing a particular threat to Vera Pauw’s side in Thursday’s opener.

“A lot of their goals come from crosses in the box and they have threats everywhere, stars all over the pitch, and Sam Kerr is lethal in the area.

“I’ve not seen many girls who can head the ball the way she can. We have to look to keep her quiet.”

‘My journey has not been straightforward’

Glasgow-born Littlejohn played for Scotland at youth level but after being excluded from their national set-up, opted to play for the Republic of Ireland, for which she discovered she was eligible through her grandparents’ heritage.

She claims she was not selected for the Scottish senior squad because of her behaviour.

“You always have that dream you will end up here [at a World Cup] but my journey has not been straightforward, a lot of it down to my own choices in life that haven’t always been the best.

“At the same time I wouldn’t change it. That was my journey and you learn as you get older. I wouldn’t really change how I am. You learn from your mistakes.”

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