West Ham Ladies kick off their Premier League Southern Division campaign against Millwall Lionesses on Sunday and forward Becky Merritt cannot wait for the season to start.
The 26-year-old has already bagged two goals in three pre-season friendlies and after scoring 11 goals last season, hopes to net 20 times this season to help the Ladies secure promotion to the National Division.
“We hit the ground pretty hard in pre-season,” she told Blowing Bubbles. “Training has been stepped up a gear and it’s been intense but a good intense if that makes sense?
“We’ve also been playing pre-season friendlies against teams from the league above because that’s where we want to be next season and we wanted to match ourselves against them to see how we got on.
“It’s fair to say the games were tough but I don’t think we would be too far off the standard required if we stepped up next season.
“We had quite a few people away on holiday so we didn’t have a consistent squad the whole way through and I think our biggest issue would be adjusting to the pace because it’s slightly quicker in the league above.”
Moving onto the Ladies’ opening fixtures, she continued: “We start with a trip to Millwall which is a great game for any West Ham fan. We can’t wait for it and we won’t need psyching up for this game that’s for sure!
“We played them twice last season and beat them both times but that is not to say we will walk over them this time. It will be a tough game but we will be going into it wanting a win.
“The following week we have Brighton which will be an even tougher game because we are very evenly matched and they appear to be our bogey team going by recent results.
“However the girls are looking forward to it because we feel like we owe them one.”
Following these tricky games, the Ladies will turn their attention to the league cup and a visit of
rivals Tottenham Hotspur on September 2.
The Ladies have also welcomed goalkeeper Toni Anne Wayne and midfielder Emma Thomas back to the club.
Becky continued: “Toni is a fantastic talent. She is very experienced and we are lucky to have her back.
“As for Emma, she is also an exceptional player. I love playing with her because I know she can read me quite well. I think both girls are very passionate and the supporters will love them.
“We’ve also got a few youngsters stepping up this year which is really pleasing to see. To have them come through the ranks and pushing for places at such a young age is fantastic for this club.
“We know they will give 110% and they will learn from the older members of the squad as we push for promotion this season.”
Millwall Lionesses V West Ham Ladies will be played at Beckenham Town FC and will kick off at 2pm on Sunday.
West Ham Ladies
The latest news, views and opinion from West Ham United Ladies by Blowing Bubbles editor David Blackmore.