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Women's Football News
Middlesbrough manager Marrie Wieczorek is quietly optimistic about her team's hopes in the Northern Division of the Premier League ahead of the new season, which starts in just over a week's time.
'Boro acquitted themselves well at last weekend's Umbro Tournament in Manchester and Marrie was pleased overall with her team's performance. "We had a decent tournament at the Umbro," she told Women's Soccer Scene. "We were very comfortable against anyone in our division, but found it a lot harder when playing the higher division teams, when it took us a little time to settle down.
"Our pre-season preparations are going okay at the moment though, we have a friendly against Doncaster Rovers Belles this week and we'll be ready for our first league game (against Sheffield Wednesday)."
Marrie has been adding to her squad during the summer, with signings including England under-17 international defender Jenny Duffy from Crook Town. 15-year-old Claire Helm has joined from Marton, as have Lindsay Stevenson and Robina Todd.
"We have a new junior section in the club this year," adds Marrie. "The section will have teams at under-10, 12, 13 and 14 level and we are also hoping to run an under-16 team, which I feel would help the girls in their development."
Last season, Liverpool ran away with the Northern Division title but the rest of the division remained close and Marrie doesn't think this will change. "I can see it being tight this year," she says. "I expect Aston Villa and Tranmere to do well, plus newcomers Blackburn Rovers will be strong. Sunderland, also, will be there or thereabouts once again."
'Boro themselves had a rollercoaster season, having occasionally flirted with the relegation zone and also climbing as high as third in the table following good form after Christmas. What are their hopes for the season? "I'd like to finish in the top three," Marrie replies, "I think we are now established as a Premier League club after taking time to find our feet. We went a long time unbeaten at the end of the season and could even have gone second at one stage.
"The younger players in our squad are getting into it, we have a lot of natural ability and just need to learn with passing and moving, but that will come with experience. We have a fantastic pitch at Billingham Synthonia, which Middlesbrough use for their reserve team matches, and our reserves are now using the academy ground for home games, so things are progressing nicely between ourselves and the main club."
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