Jess Fishlock: OL Reign and Wales midfielder to join WSL team on loan

By Michael PearlmanBBC Sport Wales
Jess Fishlock on the ball
Jess Fishlock played 70 minutes of the NWSL Challenge Cup before OL Reign were knocked out on penalties in the quarter final stage. There is not yet a confirmed date for the 2021/22 NWSL season.

Jess Fishlock is set to play in the Women's Super League (WSL) as she closes in on a loan move.

The OL Reign midfielder is poised to join a WSL club for five months while America's National Women's Super League (NWSL) is on hiatus.

Wales' most capped player, Fishlock has not played in the WSL since 2012.

"I am highly likely to sign with a WSL club and I am really excited about it," Fishlock said. "My main priority now is being at home with my family."

Fishlock spent 13 months sidelined by a serious knee injury she suffered in June 2019.

She returned to play for Reign in the NWSL Challenge Cup, but with the season shortened drastically in the USA, Fishlock is now looking to gain full match fitness with her rehab disrupted by Covid-19 restrictions.

"I'm probably at the same point with my knee with regards to returning to play as I was in February," she told BBC Sport Wales.

"There hasn't been enough consistent training or playing matches for me to be able to say 'I'm okay'. That's the reality.

"It will need four or five games until I can say 'no worries'. I've played 70 minutes since February when I was fit again. It's been hard."

Fishlock, who has made 113 appearances for Wales, has returned to Cardiff from Seattle and is excited about the opportunity to play domestically for the first time since spells with Bristol in 2012 and Glasgow in 2013.

Fishlock joined OL Reign, then Seattle Reign, in 2013 and has played on loan in France, Germany and Australia, but has never returned to the WSL.

She says a desire to play in Wales' rearranged Euro 2021 qualifiers means she must resume playing as soon a possible.

Jayne Ludlow's side Wales play Norway away on 22 September in Oslo's Ullevaal Stadion, before hosting the Faroe Islands on 22 October and then Norway five days later. They will also be at home on 1 December when Wales face Belarus in the their final qualifier.

The WSL season gets under way on Saturday, 5 September.

"The Challenge Cup was huge for the NWSL and it will propel us... but the players in the NWSL are going to need to play games right now," she added.

"For me especially, with the qualifiers that we have, I have to play right now, so I am home and I am looking for a short-term loan.

"I have to play, I haven't played in 13 months and we have qualifiers in six weeks.

"If I don't play now I can't play in those qualifiers and then by the time we come back in the US I'd have been out for 18 months and I don't know who comes back from that.

"The WSL is going to have a really competitive season I think."