Lauren Keir re-signs with Canberra United for the 2021/22 W-League season. (Photo: Canberra United)

With departures and uncertainties around defensive signings, Lauren Keir's signature has shored up the Canberra United backline.

24-year-old Lauren Keir becomes the first defender signed for Canberra United for the 2021/22 W-League season.

Alongside goalkeeper Keeley Richards, they’re currently the only confirmed returning players from a strong back four last season.

With young star Jessika Nash signed to Sydney FC, and veteran Kendall Fletcher no certainty to return, currently over in the USA playing with the North Carolina Courage, a different look might be called for by head coach Vicki Linton.

Though not quite to the level of the all-star Sydney defensive line up, the United backline worked remarkably well as a unit.

The girls in green only conceded 16 goals for the season, the fourth least in the competition. With Adelaide United hot on their heels for a finals spot coming into the final rounds of the season, that defensive strength set them apart.

Keir spoke on how the backline might look in 2021/22.

“Unfortunately we did lose Jess, she put a massive impact on the defence line last year,” she told media on Thursday.

“It’s sad that she’s moved on, but I’m sure Vicki has a few things up her sleeve for the backline. I’m really looking forward to working with the other girls in the defence.

“Hopefully we can bring another strong backline again this season.”

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Keir saw the field better than most other players across last season, playing every minute of every game in the run towards a remarkable finals berth.

She finished the year with a strong resume on the stats sheet: 24 interceptions, 23 clearances, two blocks and 12 tackles won. Keir even took a shot (on target!) and had nine key passes.

Linton spoke on how important it was to keep the defensive stalwart in United colours for another year.

“It is great to re-sign Lauren for the upcoming season, joining the number of Canberra locals in the squad,” Linton said.

“Lauren had a good season last year, contributing to our run into the finals. I look forward to working with her again and see her continue her development.”

Fixture drop

The first four rounds of the W-League fixture were announced today by the APL.

Wellington Phoenix and the Western Sydney Wanderers will open the season on Friday, December 3. Canberra will play its first game on opening night as well, a home game against Melbourne City at 7:45pm (AEST).

Canberra’s first four matches are:

  • vs Melbourne City @ Viking Park (Friday, December 3 – 7:45pm)
  • vs Adelaide United @ Marden Sports Complex (Sunday, December 12 – 6:05pm)
  • vs Perth Glory @ TBC (Saturday, December 18 – 10:05pm)
  • vs Brisbane Roar @ Viking Park (Thursday, December 23 – 7:45pm)

The W-League clubs became accustomed to rolling fixtures in the 2020/21 season, not quite knowing how or where COVID-19 would strike next.

“It’s exciting that we now know the first four rounds. I’m super excited to get stuck into pre-season,” Keir said.

“We’ve had some experience at [handling COVID] before. It is what it is, we just get stuck into pre-season and focus on Round 1. It’s exciting that we now know when we’re going to start.

“Viking Park, we absolutely love that place. It’s exciting to know that Round 1 is going to be at Viking Park, and I know that the girls are going to look forward to playing in front of our fans again.”

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