Natasha Harding: Forward plays on for Wales after 'frank chats'

Media playback is not supported on this device

Harding and Fishlock talk World Cup disappointment

Reading's Natasha Harding says she was among a number of Wales' senior players who contemplated retiring from international football.

Wales missed out on qualifying for the Women's World Cup finals after losing to England in their final game.

But Harding, along with team-mate Jess Fishlock have decided to carry on playing for Jayne Ludlow's side.

Both players have been included in the squad for a friendly in Italy as Wales prepare for the Euro 2021 qualifiers.

"There's about five of us that will be over 30 in the next couple of months," Harding said.

"We had some drunken conversations and some frank, honest conversations and said this could potentially be the last hurrah.

"I still believe we're very key players and hopefully bring through the next wave of fantastic talent that we have."

Media playback is not supported on this device

Jess Fishlock says Aaron Ramsey would become a better player were he to join Juventus from Arsenal

Harding said missing out on a first World Cup was a big blow for Wales, who were unbeaten in the qualifying campaign up until the final game against England.

"There was a period, for a couple of months after that, I did want to retire internationally because I just didn't want to go through that feeling of almost making it again," Harding said.

"To come so close and to work so hard for a number of years and to then not making it and falling that short it was almost like we went through a grieving process.

"For us it was something that took a while to get over it.

"As much as I love playing for Wales there was a point where I thought I didn't know if I could emotionally and mentally invest my time in that again."

Wales face Italy, who have qualified for this summer's World Cup finals in France, in a friendly in Cesena on 22 January.

Harding says the game against Italy will aid Wales in their preparations for the Euro 2021 qualifiers, which begin later in the year.

"For us to be better we want to play against better teams," Harding added.

"We had an experience of playing Italy in the Cyprus Cup last year. We might not have been at our best, there was some dodgy defending on our part.

"We conceded some poor free-kicks and a team like Italy will capitalise.

"It's a massive test and one that we welcome and we're all looking forward to playing."

Top Stories