Everton Ladies midfielder Jenna Dear insists she’s more than happy to drop down a division to get first-team football in the FA WSL 2.
The 19-year-old midfielder played her part in champions Chelsea Ladies’ double-winning campaign in 2015 but took the decision to go in search of regular football after a brief spell on loan with Watford Ladies.
Since joining Andy Spence’s new-look side in January, Dear says she’s settled well in the north west and is looking forward to getting back on the pitch.
“Yeah it’s going really well,” she said. “I’ve been up here for two months now, I’ve been living with Kelly Jones and it’s been really good. I know a few of the girls like Gabby [George] from England U19s so I’ve had a really good group around me to settle in and show me around the club.”
Dear isn’t the only player from a top WSL club to make the move away this winter. Former Manchester City Women player Georgia Brougham has also joined Dear at Everton, whilst Dear’s former team-mates Rosella Ayane, Jodie Brett and Millie Farrow have all gone on loan to Bristol City.
Whilst Dear admits that her time at Chelsea was positive, she’s motivated by the extra playing time she’ll get in WSL 2.
She said: “The main thing for me was playing games. Last year was really hard because Chelsea were doing so well and then started to bring more players in, so the youngsters got pushed to the side a bit. Knowing I wouldn’t play that much I knew I needed to get out as all I want to do at the end of the day is play games and play 90 minutes week in, week out. But even here we’ve got a really strong squad so it will be really competitive.”
And after two months at the club, does she believe she’s made the right decision already?
“One hundred per cent,” she said. “As soon as I met Andy I knew that day I wanted to join Everton – he sold it to me there and then. When you look at the players he’s brought through and those that have gone on to play for England then you know he’s a good manager. The staff as a whole are really strong; we’ve got Marty [Ho] now, the assistant manager, and he’s taken control of the training sessions so I think we’ve got a good season ahead of us.”
Whilst all eyes are on WSL 1 and the competition between Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, WSL 2 is shaping up to be the most competitive yet, with Bristol City and several other sides all capable of rivalling Everton for a spot back in the top division.
Dear addedL “This year will be a very competitive season in WSL 2. You look at last season and Everton were dropping points to teams near the bottom, so we’ve got to go into every game with the mindset of not being complacent. Everyone’s going to be on form.
“For us, we want to get promotion because we feel we deserve to be in WSL 1 with the status that we have but we have to go and prove that we can get there this season.”
If Everton do go into the final weeks of the season with a realistic chance of promotion, Dear could end up being one of the more experienced heads when it comes to a title battle – despite her age.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” she laughed. “We’ve got the twins in the team and players who have a lot more experience than me, so I’m just going to concentrate on playing games!
“Obviously, training with Chelsea and seeing how good those players are was brilliant and it does help. But me sacrificing training on a regular basis is worth it because I’d take 90 minutes on the pitch all day long.”