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OL Reign recalls Jess Fishlock, Celia Jiménez Delgado from European loans

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Fishlock and Celia will be heading back to Tacoma early, Celia with a green card in hand.

2020 NWSL Challenge Cup - Quarterfinal - OL Reign FC v Chicago Red Stars Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Jess Fishlock has featured for OL Reign — and its previous namesakes, the Seattle Reign and Reign FC — since the NWSL launched in 2013. The Wales native has made her mark in the Puget Sound. Now, she’s back for another season, a ninth season, for the Reign.

Fishlock and Spanish International Celia Jiménez Delgado have been recalled by OL Reign from their loans. Both players went on loan to Europe last summer — Fishlock jetted to the FA WSL, featuring for Reading FC, while Celia joined OL Reign’s partner club, European powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais.

Reign CEO Bill Predmore said that international travel regulations played a big factor into the timing of both recalls.

“Ending [Fishlock’s] loan in early April was our best option given the COVID-related challenges of international travel, including the need for extensive quarantine periods in the US and UK,” Predmore said in a team release. “The time Jess has spent with Reading has helped her fully recover from the ACL injury she suffered in 2019, which should allow her to return to our club in mid-April in optimal condition.”

Fishlock’s loan officially ends on April 5, after which she will head to camp with Wales in before rejoining OL Reign later that month. The midfielder has scored once in 12 appearances for Reading, who currently sit in sixth place on the WSL table with 19 points.

Fishlock has made over 100 appearances for the Reign in her eight seasons.

“I have to thank OL Reign as always for being so understanding regarding the loan, as the opportunity to train and play over the last few months has been super important to me,” Fishlock said. “I will be giving everything for Reading until my last day with the club, as they have been brilliant with me and I am thankful for the opportunity they provided. And of course, I am very, very excited for the NWSL season.”

“I cannot wait to get back and join my gals for the season. It has been a long time coming, but I have a feeling this season for us will be great and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Celia Jiménez Delgado returns, earns green card

A recall from OL effective Feb. 28 wasn’t the only news regarding defender Celia. The team also announced that the Spanish international has obtained her green card, freeing an international roster spot for the Reign.

“Our expectation has always been that Celia would return prior to the start of our 2021 season, although the exact timing was flexible as we determined what was best for Celia, for our club, and for OL,” Predmore said. “We are appreciative of the opportunity provided by OL, as Celia’s time in Lyon was crucial to accelerating her growth as a player. We are excited to have Celia return and expect her to play an important role with our club this season.”

Celia was recently left off the Spanish roster for this round of Euro Qualifying, as the Spanish dominated Azerbaijan, 13-0, on Thursday. Spain features against Poland on Feb. 23.

Celia is excited to return to the Reign with lots of “energy.”

“Being at OL pushed me to keep growing and developing as a player. I am very grateful for the opportunity both clubs gave to me,” she said. “I will return to Tacoma full of energy and excitement for the 2021 season. I feel great respect and passion for this team and can’t wait to get on the field and fight for the title. The journey has just started!”

NWSL preseason has officially begun for clubs and the first competition, the second annual NWSL Challenge Cup, will kick off the second weekend in April. More details on the tournament format and schedule are expected soon.