Doncaster Rovers Belles set for Super League opener

Belles' skipper Katie Holtham in action against Chelsea. Picture: Andrew Roe

Belles' skipper Katie Holtham in action against Chelsea. Picture: Andrew Roe

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BELLES boss John Buckley has urged his girls to relax and show their true potential in this year’s FA Women’s Super League.

Buckley is confident his side can improve on last season’s seventh place finish ahead of Monday’s televised curtain raiser at Chelsea (3pm).

But he is also mindful of why his team are going into the new league campaign on the back of disappointing cup defeats to the Blues and Bristol Academy.

Buckley said: “I think we’re a bit too anxious when we get out on the field and I just want the girls to go out there and enjoy themselves.

“We’ve got a really athletic, fit bunch of girls this season.

“They’re a really good unit and they’ve got a great chance of doing well.

“But they have to believe in themselves a bit more and they’ve got to make sure first and foremost they enjoy themselves.

“We’ve got a lot of young players this year but sooner or later they have to step up to the mark and deliver.

“I’m very hopeful we can do better than last season,” he added.

“I’m not big on making predictions and we’ll take one game at a time.

“But I honestly think we’re capable of beating Chelsea.

“If we can deal with their physicality then I really believe we can get a good result down there.”

Belles were dealt a huge blow during the build-up to their second FAWSL campaign when Sue Smith suffered a season-ending cruciate knee ligament injury on her Doncaster debut at Barnet last month.

But Buckley is not about to use that as an excuse this term.

He said: “What I don’t want to be doing this season is going on about losing Sue.

“Of course, we’re massively disappointed - but she will be with us next year.

“From a psychological point of view, Sue still has a big part to play this season.

“We’re looking forward to getting things started at Chelsea.”

Live coverage of Monday’s game starts at 2.30pm on ESPN.