Most footballers would struggle to hit the ground running straight away after almost a year away from the action.

Fran Kirby is not like most footballers.

Her return to action this season after nine months out due to pericarditis, a heart condition, has many running out of superlatives to describe her incredible ability.

“Fran is, without question in this country, the most talented attacking player in the England squad,” she told reporters.

“Everybody needs to look after her because if England are going to win major trophies, it is important everybody recognises what a special talent she is, but also what a special person she is.”

It was November of last year when Kirby played her final game of the 2019-20 season – a campaign that ended with Chelsea winning the Women’s Super League title, after picking up their first Continental Cup in February.

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Normally the 27-year-old would have played a starring role, but now she is making up for time lost on the sidelines battling a condition that almost ended her career.

After nine months without a competitive game, she stole the show in Chelsea’s Community Shield win over City in August and has provided two assists and three goals in four WSL games since.

On Sunday, she put the ball on a plate for Sam Kerr for a goal that was almost identical to that scored at Manchester United on the opening day of the season.

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