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You can't keep Almond away from Thunder; NETBALL.

Byline: RACHEL STEINBERG

KERRY Almond wasn't supposed to be competing in another Vitality Netball Superleague semi-final today.

The Manchester Thunder goalkeeper announced her retirement in an emotional Instagram post after the side's 2019 Grand Final triumph.

But in February, Malawian defender Loreen Ngwira pulled out of the Thunder squad for medical reasons.

"It was a Tuesday morning. There was noone else in the office." Almond recalled. "I work in Netball UK, and (managing director) Debbie (Hallas), who is also franchise director of Thunder, was just like, 'I need to talk to you.'

"I was like, 'Oh, what have I done now? Have I not done something? Have I not paid someone?'

"Debbie said, 'No, we need you to play.'" It was three weeks until Thunder's opening match, and Almond had spent the latter half of 2020 recovering from knee surgery.

"So," she continued, "I said, 'I'll go to training and see if I can run'. So I went and Tracey (Neville) set me a little speed and agility thing that was literally half an hour, and I was done."

Almond rejoined the squad, who are now relying on the triple Superleague winner to bring her veteran prowess to another high-stakes finals weekend.

The defending champions are set to play third-placed Team Bath in the second of today's semi-finals, while Superleague newcomers Leeds Rhinos face tabletoppers Loughborough Lightning.

And, though unexpected, Almond is delighted to have another crack at a title.

She said: "If Covid wasn't around, I'm not sure I would be here. I mean I probably still would have because I love Thunder. I'm Thunder through and through."

She paused, before confessing with a snigger: "Yeah, it probably wouldn't have been too much different."? The 2021 Vitality

Netball Superleague season will come to a climactic end on June 26 and 27 at the Finals Weekend in London. Visit the Vitality Netball Superleague website. Fans can enjoy all matches live via the Sky Sports Mix and YouTube. Keep up to date by following @NETBALLSL on Twitter and Instagram

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Kerry Almond in action for the Thunder

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:RACHEL STEINBERG
Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Date:Jun 26, 2021
Words:344
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