Women's Football

Jessie Fleming's tactical mind impresses Canada boss Bev Priestman

Ali Rampling
Bev Priestman has praised Jessie Fleming's on-field smarts
Bev Priestman has praised Jessie Fleming's on-field smarts / Abbie Parr/GettyImages

Canada coach Bev Priestman has singled out Jessie Fleming's footballing brain and constant drive to develop as key to the strong performances she has put in at the Arnold Clark Cup.

The 23-year-old midfielder was handed the captain's armband in the absence of Canadian legend Christine Sinclair and has emerged as one of the standout player's at the tournament.

It continues an incredibly impressive seven months for Fleming, who was instrumental in Canada's Olympic gold medal triumph last summer. She has since returned to Chelsea to establish herself as a first-team regular, having been restricted to a peripheral role during her debut season at the club.

"I think Jessie, first game, outstanding. [She] showed she can be a future captain for this team whenever Christine does retire," Priestman said ahead of Canada's final Arnold Clark Cup match against Spain on Wednesday. "I thought she was outstanding and got the best out of her.

"Whether she's got the armband or not she's really stepping up. With some veterans missing - Stephanie Labbe, Christine Sinclair - I think the young players have grabbed hold of it and are really dragging this team forward.

"Even now I'm going into a meeting about Spain and Jessie has a tactical mind: 'how are we going to do this, how are we going to do that?' I love that about Jessie - never happy.

"I saw her at the end of that Germany game and I wasn't happy either, it was like a rugby game by the end, it wasn't pretty, it wasn't perfect, but I love that about Jessie because she wants to be the best and she wants to beat the best."

Fleming started just three WSL matches during the 2020/21 campaign - her first year as a club professional - but has shone for Chelsea this season, chipping in with three goals and two assists in 13 top flight appearances. She was also named Barclays WSL player of the month for November.

The midfielder is part of a star-studded squad managed by Emma Hayes at Kingsmeadow, and Priestman says this has also aided her development.

"I've seen that hunger and desire, and she's come into her own in the last year," the Canada boss added. "And some of that is [due to] being surrounded by world class players in her club environment."