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Shelley Kerr: Leaving players out of World Cup squad 'toughest ever job as a manager'

Kerr: Leaving players out of squad 'toughest ever job as a manager'
© Reuters
Kerr had a list off 33 players in contention as she planned for her side's first-ever appearance at a World Cup in France this summer.

Scotland Women manager Shelly Kerr admitted she had never faced a tougher task than breaking the bad news to her 10 unsuccessful World Cup candidates.

Kerr had a list of 33 players in contention as she planned for her side's first-ever appearance at a World Cup in France this summer.

But with only 23 spaces available, the national team boss was left with the most difficult decision of her coaching career.

And after whittling down her squad, she decided it was best to inform the players who did not make the cut – including Arsenal defender Emma Mitchell – herself.

So as well as personally calling up the lucky bunch who will be flying out to Nice ahead of their tournament opener with England on June 9, she also dialled up those who will unfortunately be staying behind in a bid to let them down in the gentlest way possible.

"We thought it was the right thing to do to speak to the players prior to today, so we decided that I'd phone all the players – even the players who were not selected," revealed Kerr.

"So I made 33 phone calls yesterday. It's the first time my assistant coach Andy Thomson has actually said to me, 'You're on your own for this one'.

Shelley Kerr
Shelley Kerr's Scotland squad fly out to Nice ahead of their tournament opener with England on June 9 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

"We knew there would be tough conversations and even telling the players who were selected wasn't easy because they'd been waiting in such anticipation and were stressed over whether they'd be going or not.

"There was a lot of emotion attached to yesterday and – for me personally – I totally understand the feelings and disappointment of the players who missed out.

"The hardest part actually came before the phone calls as we decided who we were going to take.

"The players have all done really well and the fact we have used as many means they have all played a part.

"Once we'd made the selection we decided to make those personalised calls, which I thought was the right thing to do rather than sending an email.

"I have offered to speak to the players face-to-face as well, maybe in a few days' time. But it was certainly tough – the toughest thing I've ever had to do as a manager.

"However, now it's about focusing on the 23 players who have been selected as it's a real proud moment for them being part of a group going to the World Cup for the very first time."

Utah Royals defender Rachel Corsie will captain the team while Arsenal star Kim Little is set to make her first appearance at a major finals for Scotland after missing out on Euro 2017 through injury.

Manchester City defender Jen Beattie – daughter of former Scotland and British and Irish Lion rugby international John – has also secured her place on the flight to France.

Now Kerr has urged her side to embrace the challenge awaiting them as they prepare to take on England, Japan and Argentina.

And she has backed the squad she has painstakingly chosen to reach the knock-out stage.

She said: "It's our first time at the World Cup but the target has already been set. We want to get out of the group stages.

"The most important thing though is that we embrace the occasion and have an enjoyable tournament.

"But it's more enjoyable if we win games and I have every confidence in this group of players that they can get us out of the group stages."

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Scotland Women manager Shelley Kerr pictured on December 8, 2018
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