After a season of transition last term, Leeds will be hoping they are on the road to establishing themselves as one of the top sides in the National Division once again. Huddersfield-born Clare Sykes, who has returned to Yorkshire after spells in America and Iceland, has been appointed their new captain and speaks to WSR about the forthcoming season.
INS: Amy Turner (Doncaster Rovers Belles), Sarah Danby (Manchester City), Emma Johnson, Vanessa Leat (both Blackburn), Billie Murphy (Arsenal).
GROUND: Throstle Nest , Newlands, Farsley, Leeds, LS28 5BE
"We achieved our goal of staying in the league and being competitive throughout the season. We had a couple of changes in management during the season which, as a player, was another challenge we had to overcome but I think overall we managed to get through it and now we are looking forward to having a more settled season this time around."
"We are definitely going to try and finish in the top three if we can. We have a lot of new players in the squad that have strengthened us so as a team objective it will be to finish in the top three and also to get better results against top teams like Sunderland."
KEY PLAYER: N/A
"I don't think we can answer that yet because we have so many new players coming in and some leaving that I think we need to get a couple of games under our belts before I could see what will happen."
"Our captain from last season is leaving and we have brought in Amy Turner from Doncaster Belles as centre half. I think that is our best secure signing we have made because that is a key position that you need to secure."
CAPTAIN: CLARE SYKES
"This is my second season at Leeds; I played in America for five years and then had a spell in Iceland so I am quite priveleged to have worked hard last year and being one of the more experienced players I think that was probably one of the main reasons why I got the job.The girls are really easy to get on with and they listen so I am loving it so far and we will see how the season pans out with that responsibility as well."
MANAGER: CHRIS WELBURN
"I think [stability] is the key, we don't want to have another season like last season with managers changing halfway through the season. With the enthusiasm Chris has already brought to the team and he has promised he will be sticking around so he will bring a lot of stability and I think that if we had that last season things would have been a lot different."
Who do you think will be the biggest title threat? "Sunderland. Without a doubt Sunderland are going to be the biggest one because they have a strong squad."
Can you predict the WSL's round one scores?
Aston Villa 1-2 Barnet
Charlton 0-2 Nott'm Forest
Leeds 2-0 Watford
Reading 1-1 Coventry
WSR's Verdict: 6th. Have made some shrewd signings, bringing in players with plenty of experience at this level and will be a threat in what is a very close division. Manager Chris Welburn has been around the club for a while so knows his stuff.
Clare was speaking to David Brenchley. Leeds host Watford on the first Sunday of the Premier League season on August 21 with a 1400 kick off.
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Photography: Michael Bradley
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