Despite turning just 22 next February, Gabby George is as much a senior figure in the Everton ranks as you can get in Willie Kirk’s young squad. As the England defender prepares to take on the club where she started out, Manchester United Women, on Thursday in the Continental Cup at Southport's Merseyrail Stadium (7pm), she explains why she believes new boss Kirk can lift the Blue Girls and why Everton still feels like home...
Gabby, you recently made your 100th appearance for Everton – you must be feeling good here?
I am in my fifth year now and I am only 21 but it really does feel like home. Since I have moved here I have progressed a lot. Throughout those five years we have had plenty of ups and downs but personally I have had the highs of pushing on into international football with England, captaining the team and being vice-captain – a great honour for me – and I feel things are about get even better with new management coming in. Willie Kirk and Chris Roberts have brought in something fresh and new and we are only going upwards now.
Do you believe Willie and Chris can take you to that next level?
Yes. Willie is a great coach and person and I think we will click. I believe he can push me onto the next level. He works really well with Chris and we have two coaches who bounce off each other. They will only push us forward and help us become better individually and the team as a collective.
Obviously you began your career at tonight’s visitors, Manchester United. Did you ever think you would be lining up against their senior side?
There was always small talk that there would eventually be a women’s side but it never seemed to happen. Now it has and I am happy for them. It will be an exciting game for us in the Continental Cup.
They have had a great start. They are flying in the league and holding their own in the cup as well. They look like they are getting good attendances as well to it’s only a good thing for the game.
Do you have good memories of your time there?
I’ve got nothing but praise for the club and what they did for me at youth level. We had a good team, coaching staff and the facilities were great. They helped me become the player that I am today.
Their addition means there is another north west rival – pleased with that?
It’s great. You’ve got us, Liverpool, Manchester City and now United so there are quite a few derbies to look forward to.
It is a chance to see some familiar faces, including Mollie Green who was with us last season…
There is Mollie, Katie Zelem, Millie Turner and a few others who I played with here and at United. I’m really pleased for Mollie, she is doing fantastic for herself and has gone out there and shown what she can do. To see her perform so consistently is good for me to see as a friend but when it comes to the game there are no friendships here!
As you say, she has been in form lately – so that could be a pivotal battle tomorrow?
We shall see!
We have improved defensively recently. Given your seniority in the team and level of experience, do you feel added pressure to lead that defence?
I have always been a player who wants to drive the standards of those around me as well as my own. If you really push yourself to meet high standards then people around you will look at that and hopefully take a lift from it.
I am a physical presence, I’ve got a mouth on me as well and I want to try and get the team going in the direction that we want. Just because I am only 21, that doesn’t mean anything. I have plenty of experience under my belt – over 100 appearances for Everton, two England caps and I have captained the Club.