Emotions are bound to be running high when Courtney Sweetman-Kirk returns to Doncaster Rovers Belles for the first time tonight but the Everton striker insists it will be strictly business.
The striker left the Keepmoat Stadium just before the start of the new FA WSL season to sign for the Toffees who were back in the top flight.
After three successful years with the Belles, including a 20-goal season back in 2015 that saw her fire the Belles into the top flight, and a nine-goal haul in this year’s Spring Series - there are a lot of happy memories at the Keepmoat.
But the striker will be thinking about the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup this evening and the opening clash in Group Two North.
“I loved playing at the Keepmoat, it’s a lovely pitch and it’ll be nice to see my friends. But at the end of the day I’m an Everton player now and that comes first once I step on the pitch,” she said.
“I left there with good spirits and everyone wished me well so after the game it’ll be nice to have a catch up.
“We’ve got to build now and not look at Thursday as a WSL 2 team. They will give us a really tough test.
“I know the girls and I know they’ll be up for it. I know they like playing against the bigger sides so it’s definitely not going to be as easy as everyone thinks.”
Everton’s return to the top flight has not run that smoothly, the Toffees have lost three from three but that does not tell the whole story.
The Merseysiders have run Liverpool, Birmingham and Man City close in all three of their defeats.
“It’s always nice when it’s a quick turnaround, especially when you lose,” added Sweetman-Kirk.
“We’ll try and take that performance into Thursday in the Conti [Continental Tyres] Cup and get the first win of the season under our belts, put in a good shift and put in a good performance.”
The Belles meanwhile are unbeaten in FA WSL 2 but have drawn their last two outings against Millwall and Oxford.
The U’s, Man City and Birmingham are also in this Continental Tyres Cup Group and Belles striker Christie Murray wants a good performance against a side they beat last time they met in the Cup two years ago.
“The game against Everton will be good - it gives us a chance to bounce back from dropping two points at Oxford and it comes against good opposition,” said Murray.
“We’re looking forward to playing at home as well against a team we know well.
“It’ll be a good test for us against a side from WSL1 - they’re always strong teams, so we’re just looking forward to it.
“Everton have started well on their return to the top flight, so it’s about us coming out positively and enjoying playing a game at the Keepmoat.
“It will always be competitive against WSL1 teams, I don’t think them being picked ahead of us to replace Notts County will come into it, to be honest.
“Obviously, the WSL1 teams will be the favourites in our group but we want to come out and do well and play nice football as well, so we’ll be looking forward to it and we’ll be up for it.”
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