A budding young football star from Burton has secured her place in Birmingham City Ladies' first-team squad after impressing in Blues' 4-0 win over Oxford United Women on Wednesday night.

Shania Hayles, 17, had been training with Blues' under-19s side, but was elevated to the first-team squad – who compete in the top tier of women's football, the Women's Super League Division One - and has been training with last season's FA Cup finalists three to four times a week.

The talented youngster had previously played for cross-city rivals Aston Villa, playing in their under-15s side before manager Marc Skinner and Birmingham offered her a contact in the summer.

Shania in her kit
Shania in her kit

After working out with the first-team at their Wast Hills training ground in Birmingham since pre-season training started in July, Skinner told the youngster he wanted to include her in the squad on the bench for their Continental Cup match against Oxford.

And Hayles made her first-team debut in front of over 400 people at Solihull Moors as the Blues cruised to victory, with the youngster coming on with 80 minutes played.

Skinner, who had been director of the Blues ladies' centre of excellence before taking up the post as manager last season, had already made two substitutes and gave Shania a chance because he felt she "deserved it".

Shania, who is in her second year studying sports coaching at Solihull College, said: "It was one to remember because all the coaches and my friends were sitting in the stand when I went on so it was nice for them to see all my hard work has paid off.

Shania's squad shirt
Shania's squad shirt

"It doesn't mean I have to stop the hard work, but it shows it's possible", she added.

"I think it's a proud moment. The first team is a lot more professional and the environment plays a lot faster and it's a lot better, but the reserves will get there."

Shania has played a handful of matches for the team in the past, including friendlies, but the news she was going to be picked for the first team came as a "real surprise."

Shania, far left, with her team mates on Birmingham City Ladies Football Club
Shania, far left, with her team mates on Birmingham City Ladies Football Club

Following her debut, Shania hopes to be given the opportunity to carry on training with the first team with the aim of being included in the squad, giving her further opportunities to force her way into the side and become an established regular.

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