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Ireland international relishing 'fantastic opportunity' after signing for West Ham

Ruesha Littlejohn joins Irish duo Leanne Kiernan and Courtney Brosnan at the Hammers until the end of the season.

Ruesha Littlejohn on the ball for West Ham on Sunday.
Ruesha Littlejohn on the ball for West Ham on Sunday.
Image: Bradley Collyer

AFTER RECENTLY SIGNING for West Ham United, Ireland international Ruesha Littlejohn has hailed the “fantastic opportunity” she has been afforded by the English top-tier side. 

Former Arsenal, Celtic and Liverpool striker Littlejohn has been training with the Women’s Super League [WSL] outfit since late last year, and made a trial appearance from the bench in the Hammers’ 1-0 Continental League Cup win over Reading in November.

Last week, she put pen to paper and signed for Matt Beard’s side until the end of the season, where she links up with Ireland duo Leanne Kiernan and Courtney Brosnan. 

“I’m thankful to Matt for letting me come in and train with the team at first, and now he’s given me another opportunity; a longer opportunity,” Littlejohn told the club’s website.

“For me, it’s great. We’re working with coaches with great experience and a lot of the girls in the team are great players too.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to test myself against them in training, against some of the best players in the league and get myself back up to that level. I’m happy to be here.

29-year-old Littlejohn had been a free agent since departing Championship outfit London Bees at the end of last season, but is now eager to make the most of this chance.

After impressing against the Royals last year, she was handed her second appearance against reigning league champions Arsenal in the FA Cup on Sunday. The hosts — and 2019 cup finalists — were eliminated from the competition after a 2-0 defeat at Rush Green Stadium, as Irish captain Katie McCabe — Littlejohn’s partner – was on target. 

Ex-Glasgow City star Littlejohn replaced Kiernan in the 70th minute just 24 hours after signing her deal, so it was a day of mixed emotions. 

“It was nice to get on and get involved,” she noted. “But obviously losing the game 2-0 means we are out of the cup. It was a tough draw in the first place, Arsenal, but we need to go and learn from it and take the positives forward.

It’s disappointing to be out of the cup so early but now we can focus on the league and start to climb the table and pick up points. We have a really good team here that should be higher up the division, so that’s what we’re aiming to do now.

While she had plenty of praise for the home fans after being sought out for autographs and pictures afterwards, Littlejohn’s full focus is on the Hammers’ league run — and bettering last season’s seventh-place finish.

lj Littlejohn has been wearing the 16 jersey. Source: West Ham United Women.

With high-flying Chelsea are up next away on Sunday, followed by the daunting visit of Manchester City, she is confident in picking up points — while hoping to impress individually to potentially earn a long-term stay at the club.

“That’s my plan,” she smiled. “Hopefully I can do well in the next couple of months, show what I’m about, and maybe earn another contract. We’ll see how it goes.”

Glasgow-born Littlejohn represented Scotland at underage level, and in 2012 she declared for Ireland. Since then, she has been capped 37 times and now becomes the 12th Irish international currently on the books in WSL 1.

Former Wexford Youths star Rianna Jarrett signed for Brighton & Hove Albion until the end of the season last week.

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Emma Duffy

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