Carla Humphrey has completed a season on loan to relegated Doncaster Rover Belles and it is good to see her back at Arsenal with a full season under her belt.

It was a very successful loan spell in terms of growth and development as a player and as a person as per the Donnie Belles manager Emma Coates:

“She’s improved massively. Physically she’s grown and her performances on the pitch have gone from strength to strength. 

“It was the first time she’s lived away from home too and I think the independence and social development has been a big thing for her.”

Carla was full of praise for the Belles’ set-up and how much it helped her to grow up off the pitch:

“I had to become independent quickly. I used to live at home with my parents and get everything done for me; I was very lucky.

“I moved away and had to do everything for myself – and also was lucky to have Razza [Roberts] there acting as my big sister! I feel like I’ve matured a lot within a year; and this has increased my confidence too.

“I spent 10 years at Arsenal before moving away and stepped out my comfort zone to improve myself and I really feel like I’ve done that. I am really thankful to the club for the opportunity.

She also mentioned how much this season and regular football helped her improve on the pitch.

“Playing week in, week out was crucial for me. I came on loan to get playing time and improve as a player. I felt I did exactly that, I gained really valuable experience and learnt a lot, both on and off the pitch.”, she added.

“I certainly feel that I’ve come away a more rounded player. The club gave me freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, to try new things.

“I really felt that Doncaster Belles gave me a massive amount of confidence for me to go & express myself, which as a young player is really important and allowed me to grow.”

As Carla now returns to her parent club, there is a big question mark over her future next season. It is quite obvious that Pedro Losa and the coaching staff thought Carla was not ready to compete for a place in the starting XI this season.

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Sending her on loan to Doncaster was the right decision for the club and the player. The big question now is about having a place available next season. If we look at the forwards’ list for the 2016 season, there were eight of them listed for three places in the starting line-up: Natalia, McCabe, Carter, Taylor, Smith, Oshoala, Yankey and Kelly.
With Natalia already gone and question marks over Yankey and Smith, who are close to retirement as they are respectively 37 and 38, that would still leave a squad of six forwards including Carla, plus any addition that would come in during the transfer window.
Then you have the recurring problem of her positioning as coaches seem to like to play her on the wing. Would you play Dennis Bergkamp on the wing? Surely not?
Having watched Carla play since her u15 days with England, it seems to me that she has similar attributes to the Dutchman and therefore is well suited to the second striker position, where she can do maximum damage to the opposition, be it with her passing on shooting ability.
With Arsenal playing in a 4-3-3 system with Kim Little as the no.10 as she is a world class player, it does not really leave a place for Carla unless she plays as a false 9, alternating with Kim up front. Or she will end up playing on the wing, which is always a better option than sitting on the bench.

As a fans’ favourite, I think she will be welcomed home by many of us when she is back on the pitch with an Arsenal shirt.