EARLIER this month, Kayla Rendell made club history by becoming the first Southampton FC Women player to receive a senior England call-up.

For the 22 year old goalkeeper, it was the realisation of a childhood dream, even if that goal did not always appear within reach.

Like many in her field, Rendell did not have a host of women's football role models to look up to in her youth.

It was only as England's on-field success helped grow the game's stature that she started to think playing for her country could be possible. 

"As I got older you could see the England team being successful and it slowly became a dream of mine," she told the Daily Echo.

Even after her first camp, Rendell admits she felt playing in the Women's Super League would be a must before a call-up would be in reach.

"England don't really call Championship players up. It's very much the same as the men's side. 

"I always thought it could be within touching distance if we were to go up into WSL.

"I'm fortunate that the coaching staff have looked at me in the past and thought that I was capable of being called up."

Rendell has been a regular for England's under-23 side, whom she was originally slated to play for earlier this month.

That was until Manchester City's Khiara Keating's withdrawal from the squad presented Rendell with the opportunity she had been dreaming of.

Daily Echo: Kayla Rendell replaced Manchester City's Khiara KeatingKayla Rendell replaced Manchester City's Khiara Keating (Image: PA)

"My under-23s manager called me in and I didn't really know what it was about," she recalls. "I didn't know what was happening.

"Everyone seemed really excited so I was a bit weirded out. She (Emma Coates) told me that Khiara Keating had been pulled out of the squad and that Sarina wanted to pull me up.

"I didn't know how to feel at that moment. There were a lot of emotions going through my head. It took a few days to sink in."

Naturally, once the post-call-up euphoria had cooled, nerves crept into the shot-stopper's mind. 

A training session with Weigman's senior squad a few days prior to a full call-up helped settle some hesitation.

Daily Echo: Kayla Rendell was on the bench against Sweden and Republic of IrelandKayla Rendell was on the bench against Sweden and Republic of Ireland (Image: PA)

Rendell would have been a part of England's joint senior and under-23 February training camp in Marbella but missed out through injury.

"It was pretty surreal when you're around them all," she continued. "You think about it a little and realise 'I'm surrounded by world-class players.'

"I tried to soak up as much as I could. I tried to feel no pressure and enjoy myself, which I did.

"When I walked out of Wembley, I was a little bit nervous, but the girls were all lovely and made me feel like I was part of their team."

Rendell relished the chance to step up her training standards to compete with some of the biggest names England have.

Facing the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United in cup competitions this season helped her prepare, as did training with Southampton's under-21s.

"It's always a great experience when I get to train with them. The men's game is a lot different - it's quicker. 

"It's helped me a lot. I haven't been able to do that as much this season because of how our schedules have been.

Daily Echo: Kayla Rendell is hopeful Saints Women can get promoted next seasonKayla Rendell is hopeful Saints Women can get promoted next season (Image: Southampton FC)

"Men are naturally strong and quicker than women. They have more power in their shots. That will come in the women's Championship, but training with the under-21s is like the Lionesses."

Rendell will need to wait another season to achieve her ambition of playing for Saints in the WSL.

Inconsistency has cost Marieanne Spacey-Cale's side a chance to play in the top flight next season.

"It's just about being more consistent with our performances," Rendell concluded. "I think that's what's let us down.

"We've got a few wins and then we've lost a game. We just need that to be consistent throughout in order for us to get promoted. Maybe next year."