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Some new hope for Brighton's women

LOOKING TO RECRUIT: Highly respected former England boss Hope Powell is ready to get Brighton’s campaign under way

HOPE POWELL has always been up for a challenge – and she’s ready to tackle her next one.

Dubbed ‘The First Lady of Women’s Football’, Powell will need all of her famed skills as her Brighton team take on their biggest challenge.

This is the first season of a fully professional FA Women’s Super League (WSL), as part of The FA’s commitment to grow the women’s game.

Powell’s team get their WSL campaign under way on Sunday, September 9, when they face Bristol City.

Powell was appointed as manager in September 2017 and led her new charges in the WSL 2 season.

It proved to be a highly successful term, with the South Coast outfit finishing as runners-up to eventual title winners Doncaster Rovers Belles.

Due to further changes announced by The FA, Albion’s second-place finish didn’t result in promotion and instead each WSL club had to reapply for a licence to play in one of the two divisions.

Albion applied for a licence to play in the top tier of women’s football and it was announced last winter that the club were successful in their application. As part of the licence, a fully professional Albion will play their matches at the Broadfield Stadium, home of Crawley Town FC.

Powell, the highly respected former England boss, is under no illusions with the task at hand.

She was keen to bring in “the right type of player” as her team enter the big time.

She admitted: “I think the culture of Brighton and the values of Brighton are in a certain way and we want players that fulfil those values and will live those values throughout the club. I think that is really important.

“I think the girls have gelled quite nicely, even with the new players who have come in.

“We want that to continue. If it is a happy group of players, we will get more out of them.”

Powell suggested fans should not expect to see big WSL names heading south.

She added: “We are looking to recruit. Some of the more established players are established at those bigger clubs.

“I am quite keen to get younger players in, perhaps, to embed the culture and the philosophy of Brighton.

“We are not awash with money so we have to be sensible in our judgement of the players we try and bring in.

“Of course, we might go for players and they might not want to come.”

Being new to the division could prove a hindrance but Powell’s guile and her players’ togetherness could well make them a surprise package.

She added: “You have to remember these teams in WSL1 have been full-time for a while.

“I know there is a divide between the best in WSL1 and the rest, if you like.

“But, at the top of the tree, they have all been full-time for a number of years.

“They are experienced in WSL1, playing at the highest level. The pace is a lot quicker, the power and the strength are a lot better.”

Asked whether the switch from part-time to professional status could be a stumbling block for some players, Powell said: “It may well be. They have decisions to make as well as us... Some of them have very good careers and they have big decisions to make.”

To follow all of the action during the season and to buy tickets, visit ticketstores.co.uk/ fawsl/

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