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Louise Wakefield feels that there is much to look forward to for Manchester City this season in the Northern Division, despite the loss of some of their squad including last season's top scorer Mel Garside, who has joined Stockport County. Talking to Women's Soccer Scene, the City midfielder is confident that the young squad, which includes a number of players promoted from the reserves, can more than hold their own. "I've got a good feeling about this season," she says, "as long we are not fighting relegation whilst the youngsters are settling in. Sometimes in the past I've felt a little bit nervous about some matches but the team spirit is brilliant and we have gelled together really well, and I feel we can do okay.
Last season City had a mixed campaign, finishing just below mid-table after being involved in a close relegation battle. "We're looking for a major improvement on last season," admits Louise. "Every year since we came into the Premier League we've fought against relegation but if we can get off to a good start, we'll be looking for a place in the top six. I am sure that Natalie Thomas will be a big player for us and can score goals, and Laura Gligan has had a good pre-season.
"Our pre-season has been brilliant! We've had a fitness coach in and done well in training - Manchester City have got more involved with the club during the summer and have brought in coaches to assist us, not just in the seniors but also in the younger age groups including the under-14 side, which I run. We've also got their new kit and it's a great boost for the whole club."
The Northern Division could turn out to be a close one this season, but Louise nominates Aston Villa as the team to beat. "They're going to have a bit more experience after playing in the top division, and they were strong against us at the Umbro tournament - I think they could win it. Blackburn are also one to watch, they could 'do a Stockport' and challenge the top teams in their first year after promotion because they have got really good players. Also, you can never write Sunderland off and they will be up there."
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