Kerry Almond has come out of retirement to answer Manchester Thunder’s call ahead of the 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague season.
The defender, who has won the competition three times previously, returns following the late withdrawal of the Malawian defender Loreen Ngwira.
It was announced on Wednesday, just a few days before the start of the new season, that Ngwira has been ruled out of the 2021 season on medical grounds and will return home to be with her family.
“Of course, we are disappointed to lose Loreen at such a crucial time as the season is about to start. We wish her well and a safe trip home,” Karen Greig, Manchester Thunder’s director of netball, said at the time.
“However, we need to act fast now and will endeavour to find a replacement to continue our quest to retain the Vitality Netball Superleague title.”
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The franchise’s quick work saw them look to Almond, who had been back in training with them as an associate supporting the rest of the squad.
“I know. I said that was it and I wasn’t going to be tempted back, but I can’t stay away,” Almond said. “Not being able to play netball over the past year has been horrible for so many of us, and I have hated not being part of a team.
“So, when Karen asked if I would consider returning to the squad for another season playing in black and yellow, it was impossible to say no – especially as I know so many of our fans would do anything to be back together on court.”
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Almond’s last match for Manchester Thunder was the Vitality Netball Superleague final in 2019. On that day, Thunder produced an exceptional performance against Wasps Netball and the experienced defender believes that they can reach the same heights in 2021.
“Over the past few weeks, I have seen up close the work being done in training and I am confident we can defend our title,” she said.
“It will be strange not having our fans there to cheer us on, but I know you’ll be at home watching us and your support from your sofa will be driving us on.”
Greig, who also has Tracey Neville back in their ranks as a specialist coach and performance operations director, said that she was thrilled that Almond had answered her call.
“If you’re going to have to replace a player so close to the season starting, you couldn’t ask for anyone better than Kerry to complete the squad,” the director of netball said.
“She is in great shape and looks like she has never been away. Like myself, and so many of our players, Kerry bleeds black and yellow so I’m thrilled to have her back with us for the 2021 season. We all can’t wait to step out on court this weekend.”
Thunder commence their 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague campaign on Friday evening. They will be second onto court in Wakefield and will take on Strathclyde Sirens.
The contest will be live on Sky Sports Mix from 6.45pm and viewers in the UK and Ireland will also be able to watch it via a stream on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.
Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague returns on Friday at 4.45pm on Sky Sports Mix, with a 10-match weekend. Every contest will be available to watch across Sky Sports, the Sky Sports YouTube channel or England Netball’s YouTube channel.
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