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Ladies ready for big kick-off

Gemma Donnelly's side begin the defence of their title at Doncaster Belles today

19 August 2018

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Rovers Ladies boss Gemma Donnelly says 'the girls are ready' as the new National Division season gets underway.

The reigning Premier League Northern Division champions begin the defence of their title away to Doncaster Rovers Belles this afternoon, kick-off 2pm.

Donnelly is pleased with how their preparations have gone and insists everyone is looking forward to getting back to business.

"We're really excited for the start of the season," she said. "We've put last season's woes behind us now and we've had a really good pre-season.

"We've had some stern challenges, having played the newly-formed Manchester United, Liverpool, Aston Villa and newly-promoted Hull.

"So we've had a really good, comprehensive pre-season and the girls are ready. They're excited to get into the season and they are as determined as ever to face this season full on."

Donnelly is expecting a tough test against a Doncaster side who have dropped down from the Women's Super League, but she believes her side are ready for the challenge.

"Obviously Doncaster are renowned in women's football," Donnelly added. "They've been really successful over the years.

"They won Super League 2 last season, but they've had such a lot of changes over the course of the summer and they find themselves in our league now.

"I'm expecting them to have a lot of new players in there, a lot of youth, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to be understrength.

"They'll be full of energy and determined to prove a point. We won't underestimate them, but we've retained the majority of our squad, we've strengthened by bringing a handful of players in and from the attitude and desire of the girls, shown over pre-season, I think we're going to be a really strong force this season.

"It should be an interesting game."

Having won the Northern Division, Premier League Cup and Lancashire Cup treble last season, Donnelly says there is a collective determination within the squad to secure more silverware this season.

"They've tasted success now and as my captain, Lynda Shepherd, alluded to this week, she said it's the greatest feeling in the world," added the Rovers Ladies manager.

"So I think not achieving some form of success this season would be bitterly disappointing for everyone.

"So they've set realistic but high standards - and rightly so - because they are good enough to be able to do that."

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