Shiels praises Saints star Rafferty


Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels praised Southampton's Laura Rafferty after her UEFA Women's EURO debut, in Friday night's game against England.

Saints star Rafferty was handed a start in her hometown, as Northern Ireland finished off their campaign with a 5-0 defeat to the Lionesses.

Having been an unused substitute in the first two group matches at St Mary's, against Norway and Austria, Rafferty was given the nod by Shiels in the most prestigious of their games, and she did not disappoint him with her display.

"Laura has been great," he said. "She hasn't had as much game time as her ability would probably warrant, but you have to bake the cake and use the right ingredients and at times it wasn't right to put her in, but I thought tonight was the right time and she's answered me, it's great, and she deserves so much."

Shiels also had praise for the city of Southampton, where Northern Ireland have been based throughout the tournament.

"We have been looked after to perfection, with the hotel in Southampton, with the people in Southampton, who have been really, really generous with their friendship and we respect that so much," he said.

"It's helped us through this, because we've come in here massively below the level of the other teams in the tournament, and they have been very supportive to us."