Rovers Ladies boss Gemma Donnelly says she is ‘incredibly proud’ of the journey of two of the club’s graduates as they look set to star at the World Cup.

Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway are both in the Lionesses squad for the tournament in France, which gets underway tonight, as they look to improve on their third-place finish in 2015. The pair, team-mates at Manchester City, both started out at Rovers’ Centre of Excellence before graduating through to the first-team.

Donnelly managed Walsh, now 22 and with 15 England caps, at Under-14 level before the midfielder went on to represent the first team after six years in the youth set-up.

She made her Rovers Ladies debut in February 2014 and played a key role in them securing their Premier League status that season before being signed by Manchester City.

Twenty-year-old Stanway played ix games for Rovers’ first-team in 2014/15, scoring seven goals, before City came calling.

Donnelly will travel to France to watch the tournament, with England’s campaign getting underway on Sunday against neighbours Scotland.

Of seeing two of the club’s alumni on the big stage, Donnelly said: “It will be amazing.

“I’m incredibly proud of their journeys and to see them in the World Cup, obviously we follow their progress throughout the years, both at Blackburn when they played for the Ladies team and since.

“I remember someone watching the County Cup final in which Keira played and they said to me ‘Keira is head and shoulders above everyone else’.

“Keira to me was just a great player, but kept her feet on the ground.

“To see them play on the world stage, and I expect them to play a part, and I’ll be right behind them and really proud of their accomplishments.”

Donnelly was reunited with the pair at the recent FA awards in which Stanway won PFA young player of the year award, while the all-conquering Rovers were also recognised.

“We were fortunate enough to be at the FA awards where one of the awards was for our girls initiative and was presented by Georgia to the Community Trust,” Donnelly added.

“I was presented with the manager of the season and Keira presented that which I thought was really fitting.”

The World Cup starts tonight and will take place over the course of the next month. And Donnelly hopes it will help to build the women’s game, with Rovers preparing for life in the second tier of the English game next season.

She  added: “I’m hoping with the World Cup and everything else that’s going on in Women’s football,  football is huge at the moment.

“We’re glad to be a part of it, glad to be recognised and just happy that Blackburn Rovers have continued to support us.

“I just hope we can use the World Cup as an additional catapult in to the limelight. We’ve experienced it towards the end of the season, finally, our recognition of how well the girls, and the club have done, on the pitch.”