Clare Wheeler’s bright start to the season has only intensified her love for football.
The versatile midfielder has been presented with new challenges early in the current campaign, playing in a new position at wing-back for Everton, while also being part of the Australia team setting out to qualify for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
The former saw Wheeler thrive when, after an injury to Lucy Hope, she was thrust into action moments after kick-off in the Blues' victory over Liverpool at Anfield in the recent Merseyside derby.
That confidence carried over into the international break ,where the 25-year-old performed immensely in all three outings and picked up a first-ever goal for her country.
Despite a hectic international schedule that took place on the opposite side of the globe, Wheeler jetted back to Merseyside to ensure she was available for selection for last weekend’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur.
“Unfortunately, Australia is so far away but I wouldn’t trade it [for the world],” she told evertontv.
“Any minutes are minutes I want to take [for my country], and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to play at the weekend.”
Several injuries in the Blues' camp have forced members of the squad – including Wheeler – to adapt to new roles in order to cover absentees.
While the change of position was unexpected, she welcomes the challenge - and an opportunity to further develop her game.
“It’s a learning curve, but I think that’s a part that I enjoy about football,” Wheeler continued.
“The way I’m playing it, it’s a bit of midfield, a bit of wingback - I’m having fun.
“It’s all about growth and building as a player, that's what I’m looking to do.”
The Matildas began their Olympic qualifying campaign with three consecutive wins, as Wheeler received well-earned plaudits for her efforts in an Australia jersey.
She says her maiden Matildas strike was an added bonus to what was an already successful international camp.
“It’s pretty hard to articulate, I was just overjoyed [when I scored against the Philippines], and I think you could see that from my celebration, just pure enjoyment,” she said.
“It was everything I had envisioned and something I really wanted to do in my career. To finally do it was the cherry on top.”
Looking ahead to this week, Everton travel to Manchester United on Thursday night in League Cup action, before the visit of reigning Women’s Super League champions Chelsea on Sunday.
Wheeler says the Blues will take the positives from their draw at Spurs as they look to build momentum.
“I think Sunday’s result shows our perseverance,” Wheeler added.
“The point really mattered to us and even though we went a goal down, we weren’t going to give up, we were going to put a shift in.
“We really wanted to come away with three points, but we didn’t want to lose.
“We have to look at the positives and look to rebuild.”