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Football - 21. July 2011.

FA WSL Preview: Casey Stoney looks to bounce back from World Cup disappointment

England vice-captain Casey Stoney is hoping to bounce back from her World Cup disappointment and lead Lincoln Ladies into the top half of the FA WSL.

By David Brenchley

The Lady Imps face Bristol Academy at the Stoke Gifford Stadium on Friday night in the curtain-raiser for the second half of the Super League season in what promises to be a tough match for Stoney's side.

But the former Chelsea defender believes that, with a number of England internationals in their midsts, her team mates can take their experience in Germany and turn it into three points.

"Once you have been knocked out of the World Cup you turn your attention straight back to the league because it is an opportunity to bounce back," she told WSR.

"We are looking to get off to a winning start and get performances going well. I have come back [from Germany] and the girls are flying so hopefully we can take that into the game on Friday."

Bristol sit just two points ahead of Lincoln at the halfway stage and Stoney feels it will be a tough re-start to the season, adding: "I am looking forward to the game on Friday night.

"Bristol will be a challenge for us. They got off to an awkward start but have been flying since losing their first game [4-0 against pace-setters Birmingham]."

Meanwhile, Vixens striker Ann-Marie Heatherson has warned her side not to write off their opponents despite their relatively poor start to the season.

"If you think about the players they have, like Casey Stoney, Sophie Bradley, Jess Clarke, Sue Smith who are all superstars of the women's game, we can't look at their position in the table and take them for granted.

"They haven't had a great start to the season so they will want to start the second half of the season really well. It will be a really good game."

Academy are currently sitting fifth in the table and have Champions League football to look forward to next term, which isn't a bad return for the team that finished bottom of the Premier League National last season, as Heatherson asserts.

"If you had told anyone that we would be fifth at the beginning of the season, everyone would have laughed at us so from our point of view we have done really well.

"I think we could have done better but we have played the best three teams, including twice against Arsenal, and coming out fifth after that is pretty impressive, especially for a team that was predicted bottom."

However Stoney, who was a team mate of Heatherson for five years at Charlton Athletic, feels Bristol's Champions League berth may not be representative of a successful season.

"I have to be honest," she said, "they have got into the Champions League through the FA Cup and, let's be honest, who did they play to get to the cup final?

"I'm not criticising and by no means am I taking that away from them but you look at their cup run and they didn't really have a top side to beat to get there."

Bristol Academy take on Lincoln Ladies on Friday 22 July (KO 1915) at the Stoke Gifford Stadium. Click here to buy tickets, priced £6 for adults and £4 for concessions online or you can buy tickets on the gate.

WSR will be at the game. Follow me on Twitter for updates, a match report and reaction.

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