Ruesha Littlejohn has credited the work done with West Ham United since joining the Club as a huge help in her return to the international stage.
Littlejohn made her first appearance for the Republic of Ireland since 2018 on Thursday and marked her return in stunning fashion, putting in a Player of the Match performance in the 1-0 win over Greece.
The attacker signed for the Hammers in January and has since made four outings in all competitions for Matt Beard’s side, and Littlejohn believes training alongside the experienced players at the Barclays FA Women’s Super League team has helped her get back into the international set-up.
It was nice to come back in and my move to West Ham has absolutely helped with that. It's great for me.
“It was nice to come back in,” Littlejohn said. “I’m thankful to Vera [Pauw] and Eileen [Gleeson] for opening up the door and letting me back in.
“My move to West Ham has absolutely helped with that. I mean, I’m playing with players that I’m having to get up to their level and compete against.
“It’s great for me. It’s raised my game so it’s good to be full-time training.”
Littlejohn’s first Ireland match in almost two years was the forward’s 55th cap, with the West Ham No16 pulling the strings for her country as they secured a crucial three points towards UEFA 2021 Women’s European Championship qualification.
Having taken a first-half lead, and with memories of dropping points in the away leg, Littlejohn admitted Ireland had focused on maintaining composure throughout the second half.
She continued: “We knew before the game that it could go like that so we worked on that. I think if we look at the positives from it, we’ve learned from the away game and we’ve seen the game out so that’s something for us to build on.
“Look, it was a nervy ending but we’ve done enough, we’ve seen the game out and we showed a bit of maturity to get over the line.”
Next up for Ireland is a trip to play Montenegro on Wednesday away from home, and with the Girls in Green unbeaten in their qualifying matches, Littlejohn is targeting another victory.
“It’s a big game for us,” Littlejohn added. “We’ll recover after this game; we’ll regroup and focus on the task in hand.
“They’re going to be tough, tough team on their home patch, but I believe we can get something out of the game, so we’ll focus on that.”