GEMMA Grainger has been putting in the miles to get better acquainted with the people and places of Wales, as she looks to drive the women’s national football team all the way to their first ever World Cup.

Since succeeding Jayne Ludlow as Wales boss in March, Grainger’s travels have taken her across the country, and the 38-year-old from Middlesbrough is eager to embrace more of her adopted nation.

As well as visiting the FAW’s Colliers Park training complex just outside Wrexham, Grainger has spent time in Brecon and Llanelli, where she called into Parc y Scarlets, the venue for her side’s next game.

Wales’ friendly clash with Scotland on June 15 will be the home team’s final fixture before they kick-off their 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign at home to Kazakhstan in September.

Grainger’s reign began with a 3-0 defeat by Canada and 1-1 draw against Denmark, after which she set out on her quest to become more familiar with the geography of Wales.

Reflecting on her time in the hotseat so far, she said: “It has been brilliant. It feels like a long time, but that’s not a bad thing, and I feel like I’ve covered a lot.

“The April camp was a great start and then I was in the U19s and U17s camps, and it has been brilliant to see the whole pathway.

“I’ve been learning about the pathway and the people in the organisation, but then I’ve also been getting around the country as well.

“I’ve been up at Colliers Park and visited Parc y Scarlets last week.

“It’s nice to be going around the country, although I can’t meet too many people right now because of Covid.

“I’m so excited about meeting more people and hopefully having crowds at some point, that’s going to be a huge help for us in the campaign.”


Commenting further on her travels, she said: “Last week was particularly nice for me, I got to travel to Parc y Scarlets.

“I’d been there before but just travelling through Port Talbot, into Swansea, and being in and around the area.

“I went up to Brecon, which was nice. I felt as though I was slap bang in the middle of Wales.

“I’ve been to Colliers Park in North Wales five or six times now, and I caught up with Steve Cooper (Swansea City manager) and found out he lives quite close to Colliers Park.

“I’m looking forward to getting to more places as soon as Covid allows, and just meeting people and fans because they are so important to the team.

“It’s great if we can inspire people but I know there are people who can inspire us.”

Grainger has named an almost full-strength squad for the Scotland encounter.

US-based Jess Fishlock and Angharad James are available, while Hayley Ladd and Megan Wynne return after injury.

Liverpool midfielder Ceri Holland, who made her Wales debut against Canada, is out injured.

Grainger added: “It’s a really good opportunity for me to see a couple more players before we select the squad in September.

“It’s a balance of learning more about the players but also learning more about the team, and how strong we can be performance-wise.

“One of the things I know is not on my side is time. The World Cup qualifiers are coming up so how the players compete to be part of the team is going to be key in this camp.

“Scotland are going to be a great test for us in many ways, but in terms of our mentality for our preparation, another higher-ranked nation really sets the tone for what we are trying to achieve.

“I’m really excited because they’re going to be great competition for us, and that’s what we want.

“We want a side that’s really going to test us in a different way and I think Scotland will do that.”