Sheffield United: Women in perfect shape for the new Championship season
Maddy Cusack believes Sheffield United Women will reap the benefits of a major summer recruitment drive when they begin the new FA Championship season with a visit to Aston Villa on Sunday.
Carla Ward has overhauled the options at her disposal since the end of last term, when United finished an encouraging fifth in the inaugural competition.
Like Cusack, two of those signed by Ward - Katie Wilkinson and Olivia Fergusson - represented this weekend's opponents earlier in their careers.
"We want to get off to the perfect start, especially against a team we've closely contested with, we know it will be a tough test because they've lots of very good players," Cusack said. "We just hope we'll be that little bit better on the day.
"I've played with both Liv and Wilko a long time at Villa. Liv will add a lot of pace which in this league will really hurt defences.
"Wilko has found the net wherever she's been. I remember at Villa, her getting us a lot of points so if she can do that for us it will be great for the team."
Villa came sixth in the revamped division, one place but eight points behind United. The trip to Boldmere St Michaels ( kick-off 3pm) also sees Ward unveil her new captaincy team, with Sophie Barker handed the armband following Ellie Gilliatt's departure and Wilkinson assisting the 28-year-old.
"We set out early on what we expected in the role and there were a number of options, but Barks and Wilko stepped up and have really shown the leadership skills we were looking for within the group," Ward said.