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Keep the energy high, says Donnelly

"There's competition and we've got a combination of experience and youth in there, so everybody is pushing for that starting spot"

7 November 2020

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Rovers manager Gemma Donnelly says the atmosphere within the group is the best she has experienced since entering the FA Women's Championship, ahead of facing London Bees on Sunday (2pm kick-off).

London City Lionesses were put to the sword in Rovers' last league fixture at Bamber Bridge three weeks ago - recording a first home win of the season in the process. 

And despite a midweek defeat to Leicester City in the Continental League Cup, Donnelly still feels the confidence and momentum from that win remains, as they turn their attention back to league matters.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back to league action," Donnelly revealed ahead of the game. "It will be an exciting challenge for us, but one that I see is definitely achievable. 

"London Bees obviously secured their first three points last weekend. We were in their position last year, I think it took us seven games to pick up our first points, so they'll be absolutely buzzing.

"But we are not phased by that. We did the same to London City, who convincingly beat Leicester at the weekend, so we're not afraid to play anybody. 

"I truly believe that the quality we have within the squad now, we're in a position where we've got a really healthy balance both in terms of experience and numbers.

"There's competition and we've got a combination of experience and youth in there, so everybody is pushing for that starting spot. 

"I think the girls are thriving with the opportunity to potentially move us further away from that bottom half of the table."

The Blues welcomed a number of new faces into the squad for the start of this campaign, adding plenty of youth and some experienced figures, to produce a squad that Donnelly is excited by.

"What I've noticed this season so far is the intensity, the tempo, the aspiration within the squad during training. There's little moaning, everybody's encouraging each other. 

"Whether that be the culture that everybody has bought into and adopted, even those that are new, or whether it's just that healthy aspect of competition. 

"Perhaps that we didn't have last season, given it was our first year at this level and we were finding our feet. 

"We've definitely corrected that for this season and although perhaps we've been a bit late to the party, we're there now and there's a real positive energy amongst the girls, they all want to do well."

The Rovers boss also spoke about the difficulty of continuing to play without a crowd present, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"It is a shame we continue to have no fans here because we've got a big presence from our core followers and they do drive the girls forward more so," she added.

"We were just getting into a position where we were driving our attendance figure up from last season, more so than we had during all the success we had in the National League as well, so we were doing really well with that. 

"But I suppose that's the challenge we and everyone else has faced of late. I'm just grateful that we're in a position where we can continue and I hope that the girls can do the Football Club, themselves and the supporters proud as well."

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