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Oxford United Women eye new targets
OXFORD United Women have drawn up a list of targets for playing in this season’s Super League in a bid to strengthen ahead of their debut in the elite competition.
Preparations are well under way for the campaign, which will see the club competing in WSL 2 alongside teams from Aston Villa, Sunderland and Reading from next spring.
It marks a major step up for United, who successfully bid to be part of the new two- division, 18-team, structure.
They have arranged to play home games at Abingdon United and more than 80 players have attended trials during the summer as the squad develops into a semi-professional outfit.
But the U’s are keeping space as they attempt to attract players involved in this season’s top flight.
Richard Blackmore, United’s youth and community trust manager, said: “We know that in October when WSL 1 finishes there will be an influx, because if you have players sitting on the bench for the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, they now realistically have a chance of playing week-in week-out in WSL 2.
“We can see that happening and we’re leaving five or six places open.
“All along we’ve said from the team we had last season we probably need five or six players to strengthen.”
Being part of the WSL will boost United’s profile, with highlights of their games televised and at least one fixture screened live by BT Sport.
Blackmore is looking forward to it, but is under no illusions about the challenge ahead.
He said: “There is real excitement, but there is an air that we’re not going to get carried away with where we are.
“We will be the lowest ranked side in WSL 2, so we know every game is going to be tough.”
While the first team have to wait until February for their first game, the development team kick-off later this month.
They will take on the second strings from Arsenal and Chelsea, among others.
The first-team players are champing at the bit to play, but will only be involved sparingly.
“They can’t wait until next year,” Blackmore said.
“But if they were to play now, by the time they got to April next year they would be completely burned out.”
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