Oxford United Women kick off their new National League season away at Gillingham on Sunday and last season’s Player’s Player of the Year Kayleigh Hines can't wait to see the U's get started again
“It’s been really positive summer " she said. "All of the staff that have come in have added value to what we already had. We’ve had a tough pre-season, but I think that it was needed, and it also helps with team cohesion.”
“It is no secret that we have big ambitions for this season, and that is not to suggest that it is going to be easy in any way. There will be good teams fighting for promotion, but it goes back to the matter of making sure that the people coming in are going to add value and I think that we have done that. The recruitment on the staff side has been really positive and the players that we have brought in I think have strengthened the squad, which puts us in good stead for the season.”
Over the summer United have added to last season’s already talented squad with a series of new arrivals – most recently being exciting playmaker Abbie Bensted.
“We’ve had quite a lot of new faces in both staff-wise and player-wise, but everyone has settled really well,” Hines said. “We already had a really positive environment anyway, so I think that the crucial part was people coming in and adding to that. I think players have said it when they’ve come in that it is a positive environment to come into, and that helps get the best out of everyone I think.”
“Just having the Development Squad is huge for the First Team as well. We were in a situation last season where there was going to be injuries, there was going to be suspensions; you never know what is going to happen in the season. We are in a better situation now where those players can step up – it’s not just about the eleven that are on the pitch, it’s very much a squad approach.
“With myself and a couple of the older girls that have also been at other clubs, those experiences that we bring in is only positive for the younger players. They’re all developing really well and it’s important that they feel comfortable to express themselves in that environment.”
United will travel to Gillingham for the first game on Sunday:
“It wasn’t easy last season, we only got to play them once last year, and I think that with it being an away fixture next Sunday on the first game of the season it will be tough" Kayleigh told us. "We’ll be preparing for the challenges that we faced against them last season and looking at how we can exploit that. Then off the back of that we go straight into a three-game week, which will be really challenging but interesting for the first couple of weeks to the new season!”
Supporters can follow all of the action and updates next Sunday on Facebook @OxfordUnitedWomen, Twitter & Instagram @OfficialOUWFC as well as a range of features throughout the week.